BookExpo/BookCon Part 2: The Good, The Bad, and The Exciting! + ARC Giveaway

June 19, 2018 by Aila J. | Books, Event Recaps, Features, Indulgence Insider

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my part 2 of my BookExpo/BookCon 2018 recap. You can find my Part 1 on my blog over here! In it, you’ll find little stories about my trip to New York, sightseeing, the awesome food I had, and the awesome bookish people I met. This part will highlight the latter days of my week-long trip. As suggested in the title, I have some positive/negative things to discuss re my experience with BEA/BookCon after my recap. Stay tuned for a giveaway at the end as well!

Day 5: Book Expo Continued

Times Square sunset, me with Tomi Adeyemi, me with Marissa Meyer, me with Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (!!)

Day 5 of my adventure, but also Day 2 of Book Expo!

Friday was the most amazing of amazings! I got to meet so many wonderful authors whose works I grew up reading, and the events I attended after Book Expo were absolutely surreal. One of my most anticipated signings, What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, happened on Friday. (Omg, look how sweet Becky’s smile is in the picture above.) They were both so absolutely lovely and adorable, and I can’t wait to start their book!

Whose man’s is this?! Joey from Thoughts and Afterthoughts reveals all

Funny story: so Joey and I woke up SUPER early – around 5 am – to go to the ticketing line before doors opened to get tickets for the signing of Brandon Sanderson’s newest, Skyward. We’re in line around 6 am or so and find out that the signing is for a 30 page sampler! I cry. The good news is, we got autograph tickets for other authors like Nicola Yoon. The bad news? I still have to wait so long for Skyward! *single tear rolls down cheek* IT WILL BE WORTH IT THOUGH.

It was amazing meeting other wonderful authors like Tahereh Mafi for her book A Very Large Expanse of Sea and Kerri Maniscalco for Escaping Houdini! There were also drops for NOVL’s most anticipated books, The Wicked King by Holly Black and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor that ran out quite quickly. Talk about a marketing strategy!

In the evening, friends and I went to Fierce Read’s Happy Hour event. I got to meet amazing authors under Macmillan whose works I absolutely adore, like Marissa Meyer (legit tears because I remember reading Cinder in middle school), Leigh Bardugo (SCREAMS), and Tomi Adeyemi. This part of the day was honestly wild, because I couldn’t imagine ME, a blogger who has a passion for books, being around the company of so many talented artists and the amazing people working behind the scenes.

But the evening wasn’t finished!

Halfway through, I was lucky enough to be Xandra’s +1 to a Big Honcho Party at this fabulous little place that was catering a bunch of sweet and tasty foods. There was a bit of an overlap of people in these events, but this was a bit of a different vibe. No authors or industry professionals, just influencers and hella aesthetic.

It was a wilddd time there. Lots of exposed personalities *COUGHS* LOOK LEFT *COUGHS* but overall, an amazing and unforgettable time that I will really cherish in the years to come.

(Also, I have realized that I am the worst at taking booth photos. #noshame)

From left to right, me with Sadja from Across the Words, picture of the menu at the Big Honcho Party, me with Linh from Bookstagram @woodlandspirits, me with Joey, Linh, an Xandra from Twirling Pages

Day 6: My First Book Con!

From left to right: Mish and I in front of Simon Teen’s Riveted booth, Cody from Roecker Reviews and me, Alexandra from Literary Legionnaire and me, Mark Oshiro and me, Anne-Marie McLemore, Susan Dennard and me, Melissa and me from Goodread’s The Darkest Minds photo booth

I was so overwhelmed by my first BookCon! People started lining up around 5 am for the doors to open, but I was with some BookCon vets who told me to just chill out in the morning. I cruised in with Mishma a bit after 9 am, when the doors opened, and all I saw were lines forming and people running everywhere.

The most important event for me and Mish in the morning was the meet and greet with Mary HK Choi, who wrote her YA debut Emergency Contact, and Sandhya Menon (my fave!!) at the Simon and Schuster booth. Both authors were super lovely, inside and out, and I was over the moon to be able to meet them in real life. I definitely recommend their books (both #ownvoices) in your lives, if you’re a fan of contemporaries!!

(Throwback to that one Polaroid photo that the lady at the booth messed up. It’s okay, you tried. :’D)

I didn’t get as many books at BookCon as with BookExpo, but the few I got, I really treasure. One is Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri, which is an adult fantasy coming out this November. I’ve already read and loved it, and I think fantasy lovers will enjoy it tremendously as well! The other is Running with Lions by Julian Winters, which is an LBTQIA+ contemporary book that I’ve been highly anticipating! The author was extremely nice, and I briefly passed by him at a Becky Albertalli/Emily XR Pan book event in Atlanta last school semester! Small world and all.

Naomi Novik, her latest books, and me!

I also got to meet Naomi Novik (intense screaming!!!!), which was so so so so fun. I absolutely adored her standalone, Uprooted, and I also adore her next standalone, Spinning Silver. We only talked briefly in the signing line, but it was such a heart-filling experience.

BookCon felt a bit more intimate than Book Expo in that I met a lot more authors and had more opportunities to speak to them on the show floor. It was really awesome, running into people whose works I’ve loved! It was also a bit daunting, because it’s like having the chance to meet your favorite celebrity.

Speaking of celebrities! Omg! I saw Jason Reynolds walking around and it was HEART STOPPING. I overheard the person next to him (I’m guessing publicist or the like?) commenting that he was recovering from an injury or something so wasn’t able to take pictures, but it was honestly amazing just being able to see him in person! I hope he recovers well! I also wanted to sneak a photo, but didn’t want to be that weirdo person, haha.

I met a bunch of other bloggers and readers during BookCon, since it’s technically a separate event from BookExpo. Some of these people, I’ve been talking to for years! It’s absolutely wild to think about how much I know about them versus how often I’ve actually seen them (in some cases, only once!). Nevertheless, it was another thrilling day that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

I also went to The Darkest Minds panel they had at the end of the day, which was SO. COOL. Amandla Stenberg and Alexandra Bracken were answering questions about the movie coming out later this year, and I had such an amazing time. They were both incredible, and we even got to see a brief screening of the scene when the characters all met each other. So! Much! Squeal!

The day was not over yet though! Afterward, there was a book event at Barnes & Noble Union Square for David Arnold’s newest contemporary, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, in conversation with Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. This was such an incredible event. I didn’t get a wristband, but Mish, Hazel and I ended up just sitting behind the audience and listening to their panel. I LOVED seeing the affection the authors had for each other and how they wrote a bit of each other in their respective books. So. Much. Internal. Tears. And the fact that David exposed Adam’s recent fascination with screen-writing and how he was taking screen-writing classes?! Legendary.

Day 7: The Last Day

My last day was super chill, and I only stayed until early afternoon. There was still a lot going on, but I was absolutely exhausted. (Notice my lack of pictures on this day.) I kind of just chilled, hung around with friends, and talked to readers and authors that I ran into. I recall buying some books they had on sale for BookCon (like The Tiger’s Daugher by K Arsenault, which I read and really enjoyed last summer. Stay tuned for a discussion review that Jeann and I will have up for that one!), but other than that, I didn’t really get anything. I was both physically and mentally tired, and the introvert side of me (I like to say I’m an ambivert) was ready to take a long nap and get left alone with my books.


I think my overall impression for BEA/BookCon is that it is loads of FUN. I was absolutely exhausted every day, but the good kind of exhausted. The satisfied kind of exhausted. I can’t believe I met so many amazing people, and it was absolutely surreal half the time.

But it wasn’t all fun and giggles, in a way. I attended this event as a media outlet, and I couldn’t help but see a discrepancy between the us and other professionals in the industry, such as librarians or editors. That was interesting. For the most part, people were quite respectful, but there was definitely a strain that formed when people glanced at my media badge. I understand where they’re coming from, to be wary, as many people attend this event with ulterior motives regarding grabbing as many free books as possible, but I was a bit disappointed at some exchanges. My experience at ALA was a bit better in this aspect.

My thoughts about the diversity present in this convention are a lot more complicated. I didn’t see a lack of it, per se, but I also did not quite notice a feature. When people say “diversity sells” at this time and point… it really doesn’t. There is still a huge discrepancy between diverse content creators and ones that are not in the media market in general, and this extends towards artists and writers. This lack of empathy in industry (because I know, I know, the promotions follows the trail of money) show in other ways. I recall during one of the panels scheduled for BookCon, a panelists couldn’t speak because they could not get on stage since they were in a wheelchair. That is honestly such an appalling situation that shouldn’t have happened.

What is valuable to take away is that we as consumers should be the ones rallying and voicing behind it. We need to support diverse authors and readers more than ever at a time like this, and that will point to where the change will go. I recall this incident when I was in a signing line for a very famous author, and I told the lady next to me that a new debut #ownvoices book was getting autographed nearby, and she could quickly grab it while waiting for this other book. She gave me lip service (like “wow, sounds cool!”) but didn’t seem interested other than that. (Btw, that book is Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, which sounds like a fun and touching coming-of-age contemporary!) While I get that not every person must like a book – I really do – but I think showing more care and putting more time and effort into getting to know a book or author really makes a difference, whether it’s to just jot it down or actually follow through with a recommendation.

Before we call out a convention or industry for its faults, we have to remember the power we have as consumers and use that to steer towards the future we want to see. (Calling out is still a privilege we have as consumers and audience still, so yes! I still support that!)


And finally, I have a giveaway prepared for y’all! The book I’m featuring is Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke (GR link here). Basically, it’s a genderbent retelling of Beowolf. Get ready for some sisterhood action and morally gray antagonists in this fantasy!


  • Must be US resident (sorry INTL friends – I have an INTL preorder giveaway on Part 1 of this series over here, if you want to check that one out!)
  • For extra entry, comment and let me know what 2018/2019 release you’re super excited for!

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Aila is a young adult reader who loves to transport herself to new dimensions through reading. She's currently an undergraduate student at university in the US. Let's talk about our obsessions on Twitter @aila_1woaa!

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23 responses to “BookExpo/BookCon Part 2: The Good, The Bad, and The Exciting! + ARC Giveaway

  1. Jaime Lester

    I always love hearing about peoples experiences at the events! I don’t ever have the chance to go because of work and my family, so I have to live vicariously… and vicariously, I live! I am so excited that you got this chance, and had such a great time. Thanks for sharing the love in the best form…a book! Especially this one.

  2. It’s mild blowing to most of us outside of the US to see these massive book festivals, they look so intimidating. I’ve always wondered if bloggers were perhaps treaters little differently to booksellers and librarians because of the few isolated incidents over the years. Are there publishers that restrict access for bloggers?

    We’re always going to see ignorant readers who aren’t interested in reading outside of their own experience. It’s sad that any reader would deny themselves the opportunity to grow as a reader and person. This year especially have proven that diverse reads not only make money for n the industry but they’re leading our best sellers list. I’m stoked you had such a wonderful time Aila, brilliant wrap up

    • Thanks so much Kelly! <3

      And agreed, it was so disappointing to see first hand. I'm so happy I surround myself with wonderful readers like you who are willing to step out of their experiences. 🙂

      I definitely think the isolated incidents that we always hear about on Twitter affect the way bloggers are treated. It's unfortunate, but thus is the industry! It's honestly scary how unprofessional and rude people become when dealing with free books.
      Aila J. recently posted…The Supervillain And Me Review: Super Predictable From Beginning To EndMy Profile

  3. This is such a great wrap-up Aila, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience at such an event with us! I dream of going to this kind of event someday, meeting fellow bloggers and authors must be so exciting – it has to be, THE DREAM haha, that’s so great, I’m so happy for you 😀 Thank you so much for allowing me to live this event through you haha 🙂 x

  4. Loved hearing about your bookcon and BEA experience Aila, sounds like it was really epic! It must’ve been the time of your life meeting so many authors and bloggers Omg! I admit I was stalking your social media while you were there and fangirling along with you!

    Definitely a great takeaway from the experience itself in terms of diversity and the power we have as consumers. We often feel like we only have our platforms to contribute but throwing our support behind who we want definitely shows. I for one have decided to read and catch up on all the diverse reads that I haven’t focused on and it’s faring well so far!

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