Here is my very belated recap of BookExpo 2019. I was lucky enough to be involved with the YA Editors’ Buzz Panel again this year as part of the selection committee that chose the five featured titles and was approved for press registration again this year.
The show’s format was a little different with the exhibit floor open for three days and signings, panels, and other events happening on all three days.
Let me say up front that I got to see so many friends this year. I have never felt so popular or had so much fun at a convention. As usual, Nicole and I were BookExpo buddies and as is becoming tradition we had quite the adventure figuring out how to pick up our press badges.
Wednesday was very low key with a later start. It was a good way to ease into the convention, figure out registration, find friends, and explore the show floor.Also there was a giant Christmas tree for The Crayons’ Christmas by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. Please enjoy this preview of my new Christmas card:
Highlights included seeing a lot more of the comics section thanks to Cecelia‘s influence and meeting Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu who were signing Mooncakes for Lion Forge.
I also convinced my group of friends that everyone needed a copy of The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry and the Fan Brothers (you need it too–one of the prettiest picture books coming out this year), and also performing a dramatic reading of the synopsis of Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin to again convince my friends that everyone needed to read it and therefore needed an ARC (I still have to read this myself, but I’m so excited!).
Even on a low key day, the lines were a little crazy but I’m happy to report I navigated them like a pro.
Here’s a full roundup of the books I picked up on day one:
And some pics with Nicole and Cecelia which we always forget to take together but which are important because Nicole and I actually met Cecelia at BookExpo and now look at us all actual friends and whatnot!
After that it was time for the BookExpo Young Adult Editors’ Buzz panel which was moderated this year by Sara Grochowski, a blogger friend and bookseller dynamo who it was so nice to see in person.
- Frankly in Love by David Yoon (Penguin Young Readers, September 2019)
- The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (Wednesday Books, September 2019)
- The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (Hyperion, October 2019)
- The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, August 2019)
- Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart (Delacorte Press, October 2019)
Here are my hot takes/quick summaries of each title presented on the panel:
- The Grace Year: Girls living in a grim future where their womanly magic is seen as dangerous and has to be exorcised during a grace year in the wilderness. The Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies. The angry feminist survival story of your dreams.
- Frankly in Love: Frank is a second generation American high school senior, who pretends to date a fellow Korean American so they can date who they want in secret. What could go wrong? Contemporary romance, zero toxic masculinity, hard questions about choosing your path, choosing who you love, and choosing your battles.
- The Revolution of Birdie Randolph: First things first: the cover is lit. Birdie is trying to balance being a good daughter with dating Booker–the boy her parents will never approve of. Then there’s her estranged aunt who is back after years of struggling with substance abuse. Come for the swoony romance. Stay for the intersectional identities, complex relationships, and memorable characters.
- Scars Like Wings: The editor read and rejected 201 manuscripts. She offered on 14 projects and got 10. She also made two preemptive offers, one of which was for this book. Ava lost everything there is to lose in a house fire–her family, friends, and even her face. When she meets a fellow survivor she starts to think she might not have to face the future alone.
- The Last True Poets of the Sea: A book about swimming up when it feels easier to swim down. The kind of funny and swoony romance that you’ll want to tell strangers about. A book written to be read. In the wake of her brother Sam’s suicide attempt, Violet is sent to Lyric while Sam recovers. Alone and angry, Violet is left to uncover generations old secrets, fall in love, and most importantly to forgive herself for surviving and her brother for struggling.
Highlights from the rest of the day include picking up Emery Lord’s The Map From Here to There (also known as the book I’ve been excited about since before it even sold to the publisher), blathering like an idiot in front of Mary H. K. Choi while she signed Permanent Record, and catching Emma Steinkellner signing The Okay Witch–a delightful graphic novel that has already become one of my favorite books of the year, and meeting Friya one of the publicists I email at Penguin all the time but had yet to meet online.
I also convinced all of my friends that they all needed Butterfly Yellow by Thahnna Lai. This was one of the first books I read after BookExpo and it’s absolutely perfect. Favorite book of the year. Put it on your to read list now!
Here’s a full roundup of the books I picked up on day two:
Day Three, Friday, was a long one due in large part to getting completely doused on the way home Thursday. I’ve been joking saying that my Friday at BookExpo was sponsored by Macmillan because I was invited to so many of their special events. It was a nice change of pace and a really fun way to end the day.
Is there such a thing as too many selfies in a recap? If so, I don’t want to know. Here I am on day three:
The first thing on deck for Nicole and I was Macmillan’s YA Librarian breakfast where I got to meet some publicists I email regularly (yay networking) and hear about upcoming titles. From there Nicole and I headed over to the River Pavillion–a gorgeous room with water views–for Tor Teen’s Fall 2019 Editors’ Preview. Highlights included hearing about a new book coming from Parker Peeveyhouse, Sara Fujimura’s debut Every Reason We Shouldn’t which is a YA version of The Cutting Edge. Plus the table displays featured The Deceivers which I was reading during BookExpo and immensely enjoyed–it’s the boarding school long con mystery you’ve been waiting for.
Then it was time to wait for a signing of 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston, which sounds so good and also came with gummy frogs–like do you need to know more?
And also to take some pictures including this one with my librarian friend Becky who came to BookExpo from out of state, traded Pokemon with me, and is one of my favorite people that I do not get to see nearly enough of in real life.
The afternoon saw me getting a bunch of books for friends including a stirring testament to the enduring power of friendship as my work friend Ben and I got signed/personalized copies of Kristen Gudsnuk’s Making Friends: Back to the Drawing Board for each other.
Continuing the theme of friendship I also had an . . . interesting encounter while waiting on an autographing line:
The day ended with Macmillan’s blogger event which was reimagined this year as Sweet Treats and Sneak Peeks. Instead of an informal mix and mingle, bloggers in attendance got to hear three keynote speeches from authors and hear about upcoming titles from the publicity team. This event was a lot of fun and I’m so glad I got to check it out because everything Macmillan has coming up in Fall 2019 sounds amazing.
The event opened with Katy Rose Pool talking about her debut There Will Come a Darkness which asks what happens after the end of the world.
After hearing about them I am especially excited for Vow of Thieves, Into the Crooked Place, Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters, and Eight Will Fall (aside from The Tenth Girl and There Will Come a Darkness).
The event ended with a closing keynote from Marie Lu talking about Rebel, her upcoming follow up to the Legend trilogy. I screamed in my office when I saw news about this book coming out and I was just as emotional during Marie’s speech. So. Excited.
If you want a full breakdown of all the books I got at BookExpo this year along with what I’m doing with them, there’s a post for that.