Friday, June 29, 2018

ALA Annual 2018 Recap

Hi friends, you may have noticed that the past few weeks my posts here have been few and far between. I know that I haven't been posting much these past few months anyway but there was a big break these past few weeks and I wanted to explain why. Well you see, I went to ALA. If you are not aware, ALA stands for The American Library Association. They host two conferences a year, Midwinter and Annual. This is my second year going to the annual conference and I really enjoy it.

I have been to both ALA and Book Expo and I have to say, I prefer ALA to BEA. For one thing, ALA is much more chill. With BEA it's so much more structured. You got here at this time to get this book and it's your only chance to get it. Plus publishers only bring a limited number of titles with them. This could be my perception but ALA seems like there is more titles. Plus you can ask for what you want and the publishers will give it to you if they brought it.They are also more willing to talk to you and share titles that you might not of heard of. There is a lot more recommending happening at ALA. But it's also easier to get carried away because of that. It's not hard to get 50 books a day (don't worry, I didn't do that).

The other thing I really like about ALA is that it moves locations. It is in a different city every year which I really like because then you can get to explore a new place while attending a fun bookish conference. This year it was in New Orleans which was amazing because I have never been and it is a place I have always wanted to visit. And boy was it a beautiful place to visit, if a little hot and humid. It seriously feels like you are getting two vacations in one.

Okay, that is all for the general info about ALA, how about some specifics about my trip.

Day One: Friday

After some flight delays (a trend for my trip) I landed in New Orleans two hours late which technically meant I arrived on Friday morning. Exhausted I made my way to the hotel to meet up with my girls who I would be staying with: Michelle from Pink Polka Dot Books, Katie from Katie's Book Blog, and Shelley and Octavia from Read Sleep Repeat. I love these ladies. We have been rooming together for a few years now and I always have a ton of fun with them. But like I sais, exhausted so I basically went to bed.

Then in the morning I woke up and I had to get some work done. I work from home which means I can work anywhere which basically also means I don't have an excuse to take vacation time. So I worked all morning and then when I was done we headed out to get lunch and to the convention center to get our passes. Lunch was great. I got my first of many po boys, this one was blackened fish, from Picayune. When we got to the convention center it was huge. Like at least a milt from one end to the other. I mean there was a whole other conference happening at the same time. That's how big it is. After that we headed to an Escape Room which we had booked because we wanted to do something fun and different but air conditioned. It had this cool jazz theme and was awesome. Besides the five of us we also had three women who got just as into it as we did and we worked together well. We ended up escaping the room and solving the murder with ten minutes to spare. They gave us another mystery to solve but we definitely didn't have enough time for that.

After the escape room we went back to the French Quarter for a ghost tour. This was the main thing I wanted to do in New Orleans. I hate scary stuff but I love hearing the stories. The tour we did was really cool. It was a four in one tour so we learned about ghosts, witches, vampires, and voodoo. The tour guide was not only really engaging but super cute. He kept saying we like everyone on the tour was part of the stories which I completely loved. Plus it was great to walk around the French Quarter because it is so pretty, even though it was disgustingly hot and humid. After the tour we went back to the hotel to swim in the pool. Did I not mention that our hotel room was huge and opened up onto the pool. Then we went to dinner at Mahoney's Po Boys and Seafood because it was right next the hotel. I got a fried oyster po boy which was pretty good but nothing to write home about. We were all oretty exhausted from the day so we went to bed.

Day Two: Saturday

Saturday was the first day of the exhibit hall being open so we headed to the convention center early. I grabbed an egg sandwich from the hotel for breakfast because I new I needed to eat some food before being on my feet all day. The line wasn't too crazy so we just waited for them to open the doors. I headed straight to Disney because they had limited numbers of The Darkest Minds tote bags and copies of The Darkest Legacy which I definitely needed. Then I wandered around a bit before getting in line for Laini Taylor to get a copy of The Muse of Nightmares. Laini was amazing and I talked to her about the audiobook for Strange the Dreamer and how much I love Steve West. Other highlights of the day were Julie Kagawa who I also talked about audiobooks with, Jennifer Lynn Barnes who I gushed to about The Fixer, and Adib Khoram and Nathalie C. Parker whose exaggerate beef I may have helped fuel.

After going a little overboard and picking up 38 book I took the shuttle back to the hotel. I was so glad that our hotel was one of the shuttle stops because I have stayed at hotels before where you had to lug your books a mile away and this was great. After that we ended up going to dinner at Acme Oyster House which was around the corner. The line was crazy long but it was good. I had had an alligator sausage po boy for lunch so I wanted something other than seafood for dinner and so I got the New Orleans medley which had jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo, and a sausage. It was really good and between that and the crawfish hush puppies I got, I was a proud member of the clean plate club. Then Michelle, Katie, and I decided to go out on Bourbon Street because you got to. I got a vampire's blood daquiri which I am pretty sure was cherry flavored but Michelle said did actually look like blood. Then as we were walking by another place and because I'm a sucker we followed a lady over who said it was "shot time." Before I knew it she was coming at me with two test tubes in her mouth that emptied into my mouth that ended up being $14 shots. We totally got ripped off but it is a story.We kind of just walked around outside with our drinks and then went to the hotel because I am lame.

Day Three: Sunday

Sunday was the second day of the exhibit halls being open so we headed down there early but first, breakfast. And we knew we needed to get beignets so we went to the Cafe du Monde in the mall by the conference. And they were amazing! If only I had remembered to order my coffee without cream and sugar. That morning there was a lot of signings I wanted to do so I bounced around a lot before lining up for Kerri Maniscalco. I adore Kerri and it was so great to see her and pick up a copy of Escaping from Houdini (which I have already finished). Other highlights of the day were Nova Ren Suma who I gushed to about her books, Megan Shepard, and Mackenzi Lee. I was much more responsible today and ended up with 13 books and all of them I was really excited about and most of them were signed.

That night I went back to the hotel to chill a little bit before going to get dinner with Michelle. I was kind of over the seafood so we went to a Mexican place that was like a stepped up version of Chipotle. I know there are better places to eat but sometimes you just need something familiar. After that we ended up going to this park down by the water to relax and check things out before getting more beignets. That's right, two rounds of beignets in one day. This time from Cafe Beignet. They were definitely delicious and I regret nothing.

Day Four: Monday

Originally my plan was to go to the conference for the last day but I realized I basically got all the books I wanted and I have been burned before waiting in line for display copies. So I decided to do more touristy stuff with Michelle. First we got breakfast at Jimmy J's Cafe which was a cute and funky cafe around the corner. I got steak and eggs because I definitely needed the protein. Then we took the bus to the Garden District which has these pretty mansions and the LaFayette Cemetery No. 1. I couldn't go all the way to New Orleans without visiting a cemetery and my friend who went to Tulane recommended this one. It was definitely really cool. On the way back we took the streetcar by all the mansions and it was a pretty and nice ride.

That night I had plans to have dinner with my coworker who lives there. We both work remotely so it was the first time I had met her so that was cool. Plus we went to a vegan soul food place which was awesome because I could eat mac and cheese and collard greens without worrying about it upsetting my stomach. Then I met back up with Michelle and we went to Louis Armstrong Park and Congo Square. It was a nice little park but I wish I had learned more info about it. On our walk back through the French Quarter we ended up stumbling upon where the home of Voodoo Queen Marie Levau used to be so that was cool. But Michelle was hungry and I had to use the bathroom so we walked around trying to find a place for her to eat. We ended up going to the New Orleans Burger and Seafood Restaurant. I was originally going to just get a beer but they had alligator poppers and I wanted to try alligator for real. But I was super full and I kind of regretted it. They were good though. Then back to the hotel for the night.

Day Five: Tuesday

This was our last day in New Orleans and I had to leave for the airport in the morning so we all just went to breakfast together at The Ruby Slipper Cafe which was around the corner. I ended up getting a grapefruit mimosa because why not and it was really good. I'll tell you this, New Orleans definitely knows how to do brunch. Then we did a little souvenir shopping. But like I said, I had to head to the airport. After a bit of a shuttle snafu (the wrong driver picked me up) I ended up making it to the airport early for my flight which would have been less frustrating if it wasn't delayed for lightning. But I made it to Orlando thinking I would have a shorter layover but that flight was delayed too! I got home two hours later than planned, tired and a little worse for wear but me and all my books made it safe so no complaints.

All in all it was an amazing trip. I got to explore a beautiful and amazing city, I hung out with some of my blogging friends in and out of the convention, and I picked up some super exciting books. If you have a chance to go to ALA I would definitely recommend going. Also, try to add a few extra days and do some touristy things. The books are great but the experiences can't be beat and this way you get two vacations in one.

And I did pretty good when it came to books. I got just over 50 which is one of my lowest ever at a bookish conference. Plus I am very excited about all of these books. I definitely have a very exciting fall full of books ahead of me.

Have you ever been to ALA or BEA? What is the coolest place that you are visiting this summer? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Ummmmm I didn't know you were at ALA! Did we see each other?? XD I am incredibly jealous that you got Lady's Guide! I had to leave early because of an emergency at home and I was so bummed, but I'm really hoping I can trade for it later.

  2. Aw, I wish I could have hung out with you and Michelle this year. ALA was so much fun last year and I would say I like it better than BEA, though I won't say no to either. Being in NOLA would have been awesome, but alas, it was not meant to be. A ghost tour sounds awesome! I love doing stuff like that. And I'm so jealous you got Escaping from Houdini; I adore those books!!!