Books Left Unread #23

Wallpaper-Books

Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

 

This weeks’s is dedicated to The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

 

The Walls Around Us

 

I had the delightful pleasure of meeting Nova at North Texas Teen Book Festival 2015 and got her to sign my book! Sadly, I have not found myself pulling this book off of the shelf to start reading. So tell me, have you read this? What did you think? Should I read it?

 

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The Raven King Book Tour – Houston Stop

I am over the moon excited to share with you the experience that was The Raven King Book Tour as it stopped in Houston at BlueWillow Bookshop. I am new to the Raven Boys (just started a couple of months ago) but I am hooked and have to know how this series ends. The Raven King was released April 26 and I held off buying a second copy as I had one waiting for me at the signing. I either didn’t realize or forgot that if you bought TRK during the tour, you received a book series cover drawn by Maggie herself. These items are much more amazing in person.

 

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When I tell you this event as packed – I mean it was packed. BlueWillow is not the largest bookstore so to have a couple hundred people inside this store was amazing and crowded. Lines started early in hopes of getting the best seats. Honestly, every seat was the best seat because when Maggie came out and started talking, you didn’t care how full this store was, you were just thrilled to be there.

We all know that Maggie is an amazing story teller from her books, so please believe me when I tell you she is just as engaging in person!

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She told stories of what she her job consists of on a daily basis. These stories involved the time she allegedly set John Green on fire while racing cars, how she realized she should stop being a commissioned artist to become a writer, how she has a difficult time writing on planes, where her stories come from, and when she learned the first time she hit #1 on the NYT Best Sellers List. She was so animated that the entire store was laughing the whole time. She was just the greatest.

Maggie talked for about an hour then we moved on to signing – everyone’s favorite part! We did move quickly through the line as there were a lot of people waiting. I tried so hard not to fangirl but I think I failed. I am normally very composed in front of authors, but not this one. I felt as if I was stumbling all over my words. *embarrassing*

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My non-posed photo while sporting my Tom Felton shirt. It was a good night.

 

This made it all worth it though. ❤

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Upon leaving, I was able to see just how long the lines were to get books autographed. And keep in mind it was a horribly humid and muggy night in Houston, so that did not help.

 

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These photos don’t look like a lot of people, but please believe me when I say people were everywhere.

The very cool thing Maggie did was bring a car cover with her on tour so everyone that attended could sign! That way she would always remember the tour for the final book of The Raven King. How awesome is that?!

 

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(I saw later that the girl in this photo wrote a huge paragraph on this car cover. :-O It was hard enough to write on this thing, let alone a paragraph but I commend her dedication.)

 

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My little spot on the car cover. ❤

 

Will you be able to attend Maggie’s tour? Let me hear from you! I’d love to know how the rest of the tour goes!

 

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Review: Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan #1)

Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle, #1)

 

I was excited to start reading this book as I really enjoy everything Heather Demetrios writes. It is no secret how much I loved I’ll Meet You There. It was my number 1 read of 2015, hands down. This was released in 2015 and I believe it really is an exciting and adventurous Jinn story. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

This is the story of Nalia, an enslaved Jinn that is part of the Dark Caravan (a horrible group of genies that is bought and sold to ‘masters’). Nalia hides her true identity – she is the true and rightly heir to her homeland and has an incredibly amount of jinn power. She knows exactly who she is but due to a horrific battle when she was young, she lost nearly everyone she loved and found herself part of the Dark Caravan. All Nalia wants is to free herself from her rather abusive and terrible master so she can go to her homeland and free her brother.

There are many, many reviews of this book where all the readers seem to focus on is how mean and abusive Malek is towards Nalia. I understand that is a horrific part of the story, being an domestic abuse survivor it felt too real at times but I certainly did understand why Nalia did what I did. Part of me commends Demetrios for writing such realistic stories, but I want to stress that is not the primary focus of this story. It is the story of a powerful girl who is trying to do what is right in order to free herself and save her brother, and potentially her kingdom. Malek is an a-hole, there is no argument there, but I felt it helped to build the image of how bad of a person Malek is, and it helped explain Nalia’s struggle to get off of the Dark Caravan. Please, do not let that be the focus and let it pull you away from the rest of the story, which is actually really good.

I enjoyed reading this version of the Jinn history and lifestyle. The world Demetrios created was beautiful! The beginning of the book felt a little like a huge info dump but it was necessary for world building. I felt as if I was sometimes in the car with Nalia as she was driving throughout California or with her at a party Malek was hosting. Everything felt real and I could not get through this book fast enough.

I’m not sure I can say enough good things about this story. It has made me excited to pick up the next book in the series. I have been a fan of Demetrios for a while now and I will continue to be with the way she writes. If this book is not already on your TBR, I suggest you add it and give it a chance.

 

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April Subscription Boxes: OwlCrate vs. Uppercase

Welcome to the April post where I show you what I received from two popular subscription boxes: OwlCrate and Uppercase. Who was better?

 

Uppercase

The first sub box I received was Uppercase. They normally send their boxes out on the 15th of each month, but they had a slight delay with one of the items they were giving in their box so the mailing dates were pushed until the 20th. I have no issue with this because we were sent an email telling us what was going on. I commend them for their constant communication! However, once I received the delivery and opened my April package, I was more than underwhelmed. April’s box included a signed copy of Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw, a set of stickers to go with the book, a Harry Potter inspired poster, a Harry Potter set of bookmarks (the bookmarks were what delayed the package overall), a Harry Potter inspired notebook, and a “I Read YA” button.

I was not blown away by anything in this package. I already have a copy of this book so I was not thrilled to see another one show up in my mailbox. I just do not do stickers so I won’t even comment on those. The poster is very well done, but I’m not huge at hanging posters in my library. The bookmarks may be the only thing I like. Sure, there is a HP inspired journal notebook, but it is just ‘meh’. I love almost all things HP but I’m not excited about this one.

Uppercase subscriptions are $23/month and have no themes. They took to social media not too long ago priding themselves on not going by monthly themes. Their focus is providing the best quality books/items to their subscribers.

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OwlCrate

OwlCrate arrived in my mailbox the day after the other sub box. I had been so excited for this month’s box as it had a theme – Dystopian! That’s my jam. That was until I found out what was in the box. Inside was a hard cover copy of Flawed by Cecelia Ahern, a small notebook with “George Orwell nineteen eighty-four a novel” on the front, a “Property of WCKD” decal, a Hunger Games magnet (sorry, it is turned over in this photo but it is simply a picture of the MockingJay symbol), a Hunger Games bracelet, an advertisement for The Star-Touched Queen, and a drink coaster.

To say I was underwhelmed and disappointed is an understatement. Yes, I was underwhelmed with Uppercase, but this box let me down even more. I might be running out of words to properly describe how ripped off I am feeling right now. OwlCrate is the more expensive of the two boxes ($29.99/month before taxes) and this one made me feel more robbed than the last one. There is not one item out of this box that I am even a little bit excited about. I have a very similar bracelet for Harry Potter and it cost me $7. That combined with everything else does not make me feel my money was well spent.

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Overall

I knew after this post I was going to cancel one of these subscriptions, and I already have. I do not feel they are worth my money anymore. I know people that wait to see what shows up in the monthly boxes and if they like something, they will find out what Etsy or Society6 store is selling the item and buy it there. That sounds a lot smarter than what I am doing. I really hoped both April boxes would knock it out of the ball park but instead, they didn’t even pull into the parking lot of the ball park.

 

If you had to cancel one of these, which would it be?

 

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DNF Review: We All Looked Up (Ugh)

We All Looked Up

 

I was really hoping to avoid DNFing books this year but here we are, on my second DNF of the year. It really hurt my bookworm feelings to have to quit this at only 30%. Let me explain why I was more than happy to put this one down and move on.

This is the story of five teenagers from all social groups whose lives intersect after the Government announces that an asteroid is going to hit the Earth in the next 7-8 weeks. It is predicted that 66% of the population will be wiped out. The teens are going to do their best to live what is left of their life to the fullest and one of those ways is by shedding labels and being true to who they are.

This book had a lot of promise as it had a great premise but it just did not deliver on it. I was listening to the audio book version of this and it felt like a very long, boring story.  It was at 25% through the story before the asteroid was even mentioned, but it was casually mentioned like it was an everyday event for a deadly asteroid to be on a collision course with Earth. Meh. No big deal, everyone! Yeah, ok.

The characters felt very one-dimensional and shallow. One would think they would have some definition that defines who they are, but instead they were self-centered and awful. I found myself not caring what any of them were going through or where they came from. I did not care how they came together or how they chose to live their lives. Actually, I didn’t get far enough to find out because I quit at 30%. I could not take anymore. Not only was the story completely boring, it was not going anywhere. It was painfully slow and uneventful. I was almost cheering for the asteroid to shock everyone and take out Earth just so the story would be over sooner.

I can not recommend this book to anyone. The audio book did not do this story any justice. The narrators (there were several) were terrible at expressing emotions or even any type of personality. Please, do not suffer with this book. Skip it and pick up something you  have a great chance of enjoying.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Square Root of Summer

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

 

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Rueter Hapgood

 

The Square Root of Summer

Publication Date: May 3, 2016

 

From Goodreads:

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

With time travel, quantum physics, and sweeping romance, The Square Root of Summer is an exponentially enthralling story about love, loss, and trying to figure it all out, from stunning debut YA voice, Harriet Reuter Hapgood.”

 

Are you excited for this book??

 

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NTTBF ’16 Recap

Welcome to my North Texas Teen Book Festival 2016 Recap! It was April 23, 2016 in Irving, TX. It is only the second year for this festival but it has grown so much from its first year. I will do my best to properly review this lovely book festival.

 

Location

The festival was at the Irving Convention Center. It is a very nice place for an event like this and thankfully more of the center was used as opposed to last year. This festival was on four different floors. Let that sink in. Four different floors. That meant there was a LOT of walking and carrying of books up & down escalators. I heard a lot of attendees being confused where things were. They were upset about missing panels because they weren’t sure where GB3 was located. That’s fair if you hadn’t been to this center before.

 

Book Sales

What booknerd doesn’t love book sales??? Half Price Books provided the books again this year and they did a great job. They had (nearly) all of the books alphabetized and easy to find. Absolutely no complaints here.

 

Lines

Oh have mercy on me, lines. There were lines nearly everywhere you went. There was a line to get into the festival first thing in the morning. This year they did not open doors until 8am, which caused a huge backup/congestion of attendees. They were standing into the garage, which was almost blocking traffic. Last year they let us in to wander around before 8am. That way you could buy books or just get familiar with the building.

The organizers did something new this year where you had to wait in another line for signing lines tickets if you wanted to see one of three authors: Marie Lu, James Dashner, or Gayle Forman. Those tickets were going to be handed out at 11am, but with the way the crowds were going…. waiting until 11am would not be an option. I was in the book signing line with my new friend, Cherie (HI!! *waves*), at 9:30am when we chose to forgo any panels to sit in line for the ticket signing passes.  Once I found out where the passes would be handed out, I sat down and saw many people fall in line after me. Somehow I managed to be first in line for the passes! But I clearly was not the only one who wanted these golden tickets.

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That line wrapped around to the right of this picture and kept going. We found out later that they had 160 tickets to pass out. I had to be the muscle and kick people out of line for trying to cut in front of everyone, or asking if they could just hang out with us ignoring the hundreds of people that were already in line. The topic of Manners will come later in this post. Needless to say, I only got passes for the authors I wanted – Lu and Forman. I was trying to be mindful of the people who truly wanted to see Dashner and did not just grab all of the things.

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The other line that is the real focus is the signing lines… but that will come later. Let’s just say that it was insanity, terrifying, and maddening in the worst ways possible.

 

Friends

I cannot stress enough how important it is to make friends at these events! Not only is it awesome to have new book friends in general, but you are able to have a partner in crime throughout the day! I drove to this event with the mindset I would be by myself all day. That was not the case! While standing in line for some swag, my new friend Cherie started chatting me up. I swear we became insta-friends! She was my better half on this day and I am forever grateful she turned around and asked me some weird question. 🙂 Cherie found a friend while standing in line to buy books, Han! Here we all around in front of the “Endless Stories” display. I’m standing really weird because the girl taking the picture did NOT get all of our books in the picture. If she would have, there would be about 7 large bags full of amazing.

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Festivals are also a GREAT time to meet up with wonderful friends you don’t get to see too often! I ran into two of my favorites: Xander and Mary. ❤

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Manners

Let me take a moment to talk about manners. This is something that should be common sense to everyone but it seems to have skipped some (a lot of?) people. I saw a tremendous lack in manners and common courtesy through the entire day. Not only in verbal manners, but physical as well. I was ran into, knocked into, ran over, shoved out of the way, and cut off more times than I can ever remember. Not one time did anyone stop to excuse themselves, it was all about them and clearly I was in their way.

Please always remember that the Golden Rule still does mean something and it works. I could use other phrases like, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar” but you get my point. Being a rude, inconsiderate, screaming attendee is not going to make anyone want to help you. On top of that, if as an attendee you are rude to other attendees, you just lost any chance you had of me helping you. Just remember, you are not the only one at this festival. I am not saying I am better than anyone else, please know that, but when I asked for guidance or help from a volunteer, believe me when I say they were more apt to want to help me than if I had started screaming at them. And they remembered me in a good way! I would run into the same volunteers later in the day and they would ask if there was anything they could help with. That was amazing.

Also, please do not ask or assume you can cut in line with someone that you do not know. We had this happen many, many times while waiting for signing line tickets early in the day. I spent a good portion of my time in line directing people away from cutting in front of us. I swear I came across as a bully but I’m not. Please know that I am not. One boy even asked if he could hang out with us. I kindly told him this was the front of the line and he would have to go to the end of said line. He said, “I know, but I want to hang out with you at the front.” No, sweetheart, that is not how this works. Another girl pretty much begged us to get her book signed for her by one of the authors. Sorry, but that doesn’t work either.

 

Panels

I was only able to attend about 1.5 panels throughout the entire day. I spent the rest of my time in lines or grabbing lunch. One panel I attended was really good and I enjoyed it a lot. I felt bad for Marie Lu, who was on this panel, as the poor girl was mobbed by fans before the panel started and then had to be escorted out by security.

 

Author Signings

Now we get to the topic that you really want to know about (unless you have really been curious about the entire day). I know, you are probably like me and want to know about the authors and the rush of meeting these awesome people. Yes, it was a rush but it was more terrifying than anything. I don’t mean meeting the authors was terrifying… the 1.5 hours leading up to the signings were terrifying. I have never been involved with a mob rush before, but I can now say that I have. My friends and I did what we were supposed to do: we sat by the door that was going to open and let people into the signing area. This year, it was in one large room, not like last year where it was in three different areas. About 45 minutes before the doors were supposed to open, things got really scary. With no communication and out of nowhere, there was a mad rush of thousands of kids running to the far side of the convention center and they were all screaming at the top of their lungs. Try to picture that. Thousands of screaming kids running. I had no idea what was going on but it was truly horrific. I found myself smacked by book bags and more bodies than I care to count. We found out later that the kids/teens mob rushed to the far side of the center because someone told them the line to get into the signing area was moving over there, where everyone would be put into another line. If you did what you were supposed to and waited by the doors, You. Were. Screwed. You lost your place in line and you found yourself at the end of an 8,000 person line. And with only an hour and a half for signings, that meant you were pissed and screwed. Kiss any and all chances of meeting the authors goodbye.

Now, I want to say that I am sure that the line was moved for the safety of everyone because one cop walked by at one point and was a d-bag yelling at kids, telling them to get out of the hallway because they were blocking the walking path. I am all for rules and safety, but screaming like that was not necessary. If there had been an emergency and medical needed to get to someone, they were simply not getting through that crowd. But herding us into another line and only letting 20 people into the signing area at a time was not making anyone happy. I found out later that the people at the back of the line were forced to stand outside of the building and were out there for almost an hour, waiting to get in.

My friends and I were invited us to stand with another group of friends I made earlier in the day . Here is the roped line inside of the signing area – and this was to get into the author signing area:

In front of me

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Behind me:

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I did not see the lines beyond this room but I heard it was a nightmare. It still took me 20 minutes or so to get into the actual author signing area and I swear to you – I did everything reasonably within my power to make the most of my time. I was still very nice to everyone. Even the occasional author that walked by and remembered who I was! Here we are with Becky Wallace herself. I truly adore her.

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Here is who I was able to meet once I made it past the ropes:

Gayle Forman was my first stop. The author next to her stole my thunder when I thought I was the first person to meet Gayle, when in fact I was the second. You will notice that I held to the two book rule, but am kicking myself. I noticed later that people were giving her (and others) 5-6 books to signed. I gave up having her sign two books to stick to the rules. It appears I was the only one.

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Jodi Meadows. I popped over to her table to have her sign my ARC of My Lady Jane20160423_155002.jpg

Caragh M. O’Brien. She was such a delight to meet! 20160423_155548.jpg

 

Marie Lu (!!!) Sorry the picture is fuzzy. We were given NO time to take photos, even if they were awkward off to the side photos.

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Carrie Ryan (!!) She was so adorable! I loved chatting with her.

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Amy Spalding and Jessica Spotswood. I was moving pretty quick through the signing lines so if I had the chance to get a photo with both authors, I jumped at it. Both of these ladies were just lovely.

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One of my dear favorites – Victoria Scott! (TX will miss you, my dear)

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Brodi Ashton and Victoria Aveyard. I was getting ready to take this picture and told Victoria, “Just so you know, I’m getting you in this photo”. She laughed and did her best to pose. She was so in demand at this event.

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Rachel Caine was a doll! She was so excited to meet everyone!

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Jessica Brody and Julie Buxbaum. I adore these two! They were both such amazing people.

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Cynthia Hand. She was another delightful author to meet. 🙂

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The ever lovely, Claudia Gray. She wanted to talk to me about her fanfiction. 🙂 If I had more time, darling, I would have let you talk my ear off about it. ❤

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Andrea Cremer. She was so incredibly sweet!

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Sarah Rees Brennan (!!) Sarah did tell me that she loves to collect her reader’s tears and wear them in a jar around her neck. I believe I love her for this.

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Lori Goldstein (!!!!) I have been such a huge supporter and fan of hers from the start! I was over the moon excited to finally meet her in person. This had made my day!20160423_163515.jpg

 

If you are curious about how busy and crowded the signing lines were, here are two photos I took and these were at the end of the day. :-O

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My Book Haul

Would you believe me if I tell you that I carried about 75lbs worth of books all day? My motto: go big or go home. I come to festivals on a mission and I get the most I can out of them. My bags for the day:

 

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Here is a better view of all of the books I carried with me throughout the entire day (no regrets, btw):

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After the maddness of the signing lines and various lines closing or being cut off early, this is what I actually got signed:

 

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Notice a lot of my stack disappear, don’t you? I will openly admit that I am heartbroken that I wasn’t able to get to meet some authors that hardly ever come to Texas (Dallas or Houston). There were some books I was okay with not getting signed, but the rest really did upset me. I will count myself as one of the fortunate ones that was able to move through so many lines. Before the lines truly shut down, I saw many kids have to leave lines because their school buses were leaving. I’m sure there were some people that didn’t get to meet anyone.

 

The swag I walked away with (if you want swag, we should talk. I have TONS)20160425_210608.jpg

 

Fast Pass/Super Fast Pass

This was new for 2016. For $100 you could buy a Fast Pass that got you to the front of 10 signing lines. For $200 (or $250?) you could buy a Super Fast Pass and get to the front of 25 author lines. I see pros and cons to both. I did not purchase either of these (I don’t have that kind of disposable income) but I can tell you that after standing in one line for 20 minutes at the end of the day to see the last author that was there only to find out we hadn’t moved because four girls used their Fast Pass at the same time, it made me and the other people cranky. We gave up seeing other authors to stand in that line and making us wait longer was not enjoyable.

 

 

EDIT: Overall Thoughts

I love this event and will go back next year, and the year after that. I will scream it from the rooftops how much I adore and support this event. My opinions here are meant to be heartfelt and with no harsh tones at all.

I have now been on both sides of a book festival – planning and attending. I can only hope that the planners attempt to plan the author signings better. My personal opinion (as an attendee) is that the signing worked better last year. Last year there were three different signing areas and that let the attendees plan where to go and who to see without the congestion of terrifying kid/teen mobs. Maybe there is nothing that can be done to ease congestion if the number of attendees keeps jumping. That is a great problem for NTTBF as it means they are being well received in the book community, but it is horrific for the attendees as they have to sacrifice panels to get in line for something else.

Concessions/Food was MUCH better, thank you for having multiple areas for people to get food. Last year I waited with my friend Mariah and her now husband for over an hour to get a $7 sandwich.

I urge everyone to try to attend this if you can, but either go with a friend or make friends there. Remember – BE NICE TO PEOPLE. It will get you farther than you think it will. Have some sort of game plan. If you have to sacrifice panels to stand in line, ask yourself if it is really worth it to you. If the answer is yes, there you go. I skipped panels to get tickets to Lu/Forman and I do not regret this decision.

Addition: The one question I asked to every author – every single one of them – was if they were having a good time or not. I feel this is important to mention because all of them, every single one of them, had the same response, “This festival is amazing!” They never saw what we, as attendees, saw. They didn’t experience the complete terror that was a rush of thousands of screaming kids/teens, but maybe that is a good thing. These people get noticed almost everywhere they go so I’m sure things being quiet on their side was a good thing. If they have a great time, they will tell others, who will tell their managers/publishers/etc, and that is always a very good thing.

 

So tell me, did you attend this event? Or would you attend this event? What are you thoughts on everything I laid out about the day? I want to hear from you.sara-signature1