Category Archives: Let’s Talk

Everything I Learned from Attending BookExpo and Tips I’m Sharing

I can’t believe it’s almost time for BookExpo. I’ve been attending the book and publishing conference since 2011 and will be heading back as Press this year so be sure to watch my social media for updates.

This is an updated version of a tips post I originally shared in 2014.

What to Bring:

Here’s what you should bring along to the Javits Center every day:

  • Paperwork: DON’T FORGET YOUR REGISTRATION BADGE! If you’re a print out your schedule ahead of time kind of person, don’t forget that either. If you’re attending with friends you may want to have copies to share too.
  • Cell Phone: I keep my entire BookExpo schedule on my phone for easy access and to see it plotted out in my calendar. This is also a great way to keep track of any friends you’ll be traveling with as your schedules may overlap and diverge. I take my Press duties seriously so I also use my phone to live tweet the show, share Instagram stories, take pictures for my recap post, and have a way to reference the BookExpo site if something on the schedule changes. (BookExpo also offers a Show Planner app to download to smartphones which is another helpful way to schedule but it might not always load properly at Javits.)
  • Portable Charger: Javits has terrible wifi. Your phone will run down. Be sure to start the day with a fully charged phone. Also bring some kind of portable charger–there aren’t a ton of outlets so having your plug on hand isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be able to charge devices.
  • Cash: It’s just easier to get lunch with cash whether you are at the Food Court or elsewhere. Also easier for cab fare and everything else. You will also want some cash on hand for Coat Check.
  • Small Bag: This is not the time for a giant hold-everything monster bag. Just the essentials (wallet, ID, paperwork, phone, etc.) It gets crowded on the show floor and everything you carry is going to be heavy. Don’t bog yourself down.
  • Business Cards: I give cards to authors, to publicists, and people I meet during the show. Be sure to have a nice stack so you don’t run out. This year I’m getting new cards with my blog URL, email, instagram, and twitter handles.
  • Water Bottle: Bring a bottle and refill it at the water fountains during the day.
  • Snacks: Just in case lunch proves elusive and you need to refuel.
  • Rolling Bag and Tote Bag: The tote will be used on the show floor (where no rolling luggage is allowed) to hold galleys you pick up. There is a 100% chance you will get totes throughout the show but it’s always good to have a sturdy one you already like–just in case. The rolling bag is the most important thing to bring. Before the show starts, drop the rolling bag in a coat check area for five bucks. Now, throughout the day, you can drop your books into the suitcase. At the end of the day you can roll your suitcase home or to your hotel. Easy.

What to Wear:

  • Clothes: BookExpo is a professional convention and it’s nice to look semi-professional too. I tend to do business casual leaning more toward casual. I’d also say dress in layers with some kind of lightweight sweater because air conditioning works more fully in some areas than others. My default outfit is usually a dress and cardigan with or without leggings underneath depending on the weather.
  • Shoes: Wear comfortable shoes. If that means sneakers, fine. If it means something else, go for it. You will likely be on your feet for eight hours and you will be walking for a lot of that. My go to shoes are Sanuks or Skechers just go with something you have already worn. This isn’t the time to break in a new pair.

How to Schedule:

  • Over-Schedule: BookExpo has author signings, panels and sessions, inbooth signings, galley drops, and sometimes even after hours events. You should check the BookExpo site and publishing social media to see what’s being promoted and what’s interesting for you. Opinions vary on how much to schedule or plan ahead for BookExpo. I’m in the camp of over-scheduling. I mark down everything I’m even remotely interested in and whittle down from there as the day progresses.
  • Prioritize: The key is to note when everything you want to do is happening. In any given time slot it’s likely you can do multiple things, but sometimes you can’t. Know what is most important to you and know how much time you want to spend on it–generally I pick some books and say to myself “Okay, this is why I’m at BookExpo today.” and that determines what else happens that day.
  • Schedule Lunch: Seriously. I tend to frequent the food court, but really eating anywhere is fine. Food is important and you won’t make it through the day otherwise. Same goes for staying hydrated.

What to Expect:

  • Fun: If you love books, BookExpo is a great time. It’s a little overwhelming but there is lots of fun to be had.
  • Books: No matter how many books you think you will take home, know that you will be getting more than that. If you listen to nothing else I’m sharing here, do trust me no the rolling bag.
  • Lines: You will wait on lines for a lot of BookExpo–especially for big name signings–but mostly it’s worth it.
  • Network: Don’t be afraid to say hi to people. If you see someone from Twitter, wave. If you love a book and see the author, say hello. If a publicist just made your day finding the last ARC for the only book you wanted that day, let them know. Pass out cards, make friends. Find contacts.

Those are all of the tips I have to share for a successful BookExpo. If you have more (or have some questions I didn’t answer), let’s chat in the comments!

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Everything I Learned From Reading YA Fantasy for One Month

Everything I learned from Reading YA Fantasy for One Month with a stack of booksHere, in no particular order, is everything I learned from reading YA fantasy novels for the better part of one month:

  1. Ten years ago something big happened. A life-changing event or a war. Ten years later after stewing on this and nothing else for a decade, it’s time to act.
  2. If a character is an orphan they are probably also a monarch in hiding/disguise or a lesser god. Possibly both.
  3. Do not get distracted by the luxuries found in the castle or manor house. Don’t do it.
  4. The heroine will probably be involved with brothers who are the love interest and the villain.
  5. The love interest and the villain might be the same person.
  6. Magic is never free.
  7. Favors are never free.
  8. In fact, nothing is ever free. Everything is really expensive in fantasy worlds and debts are dangerous. You have been warned.
  9. There may be dancing or at least a party where someone gets to wear a fancy gown.
  10. The main character will inherit something. It will not be what they expect.
  11. There will be a quirky animal sidekick or a plucky best friend. Not both.
  12. There will be pining.
  13. If anyone loses something of great sentimental value they are not getting it back. Unless it’s the key to unlocking their powers and/or their mysterious origins. Then they’re definitely getting it back.
  14. Two characters will kiss. That may or may not be a good thing.
  15. Even if it feels like the absolute worst thing has happened, at least 80% of the cast will be back for book two.

Let’s Talk About the 2018 Printz Award

So how about those Youth Media Awards? (I previously talked about my library’s mock printz for this year and shared some predictions in this older post.)

Every year the American Library Association’s (ALA) division called YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) (among others) has committees of dedicated librarians choosing the best of the best books in various categories for things called the Youth Media Awards. In YA literature, the biggest award is the Printz for outstanding overall books. Other awards include the Morris which is for best debut.

Speculation on what will and will not make the Printz cut is a hot topic in library circles and heavily debated since the official criteria leaves a lot up to interpretation. I spend a lot of time trying to guess contenders both for myself and for my job where I chair a committee that chooses shortlist titles for a systemwide Mock Printz.

This year I came up with this short list. The first six titles were on my library’s Mock Printz shortlist and the final four were ones that I hoped would win something.

  1. Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  4. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  6. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  7. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  8. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  9. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  10. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

So how did my predictions stack up? Pretty well. While I still with I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Jane Unlimited, and American Street had gotten more attention I’m happy to say my committee’s shortlist was pretty on point. I’m not going to detail all of the awards here (you can find the full roster of winners and honors in ALA’s press release) I will say my committee covered about 80% of the winning titles between booktalks and our Mock Printz program.

Here are the wins for the books I mentioned here:

  1. Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Printz honor, Newbery honor, Coretta Scott King honor)
  4. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (Stonewall winner, Nonfiction award finalist)
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Printz honor, Coretta Scott King honor, Morris Award winner)
  6. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  7. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore (Best Fiction for Young Adults booklist selection)
  8. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  9. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman (Printz honor, nonfiction award winner)
  10. American Street by Ibi Zoboi (Best Fiction for Young Adults booklist selection)

Have you read any of these or are they on your radar? Do you follow the youth media awards every year?

 

Let’s Talk About the Printz Award, my library’s Mock Printz, and how you can join in

Every year the American Library Association’s (ALA) division called YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has committees of dedicated librarians choosing the best of the best books in various categories for things called the Youth Media Awards. In YA literature, the biggest award is the Printz for outstanding overall books. Other awards include the Morris which is for best debut.

Speculation on what will and will not make the Printz cut is a hot topic in library circles and heavily debated since the official criteria leaves a lot up to interpretation. I spend a lot of time trying to guess contenders both for myself and for my job where I chair a committee that chooses shortlist titles for a systemwide Mock Printz.

This year, I thought it would be fun to get blog readers involved and try to do a Miss Print Mock Printz.

As a starting point here is the shortlist my committee came up with:

  • Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Spinning by Tillie Walden

Because of time constraints (we do the Mock Printz as a live two hour discussion) we only cover five or six books at most. This list is determined based on titles the committee enjoyed, books getting buzz and critical acclaim (starred reviews from publishers and the like), and general appeal. We also try to cover a variety of genres which is something the real Printz doesn’t have to do. Now, a few of my favorites of the year did not make the cut with our shortlist so to the above contenders I would add:

  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi

There could be other books I’ve read that are just as likely as contenders which I’m forgetting. There could be titles I’ve never read or even heard of that will get attention from the committee. It’s hard to say and they read much more widely than I would.

That said, I feel good about this list and comfortable predicting that at least some of them will be Printz contenders.

This year I’m feeling pretty on point with my pre-awards reading. I have read 4 of the 5 Morris finalists (still need to get to Devils Within from the titles there) and 2 of the 5 nonfiction award finalists (The 57 Bus and Vincent and Theo). These are the only two awards that give a shortlist before the award announcements at ALA’s midwinter conference. Knowing and having read so many of the titles in play this year I’m very excited to see how the awards shake out this year.

I’m going to post an update for this post after my library system has their Mock Printz with our winners and then I’ll do another follow up after the actual awards are announced.

Until then:

Have you read of the Youth Media Awards? Do you follow them? What books would you predict for the Printz award?

If you want to try to read some of the shortlist (including my four extra picks) you still have plenty of time to track them down at your library and I’d love to hear thoughts as you read them!

  1. Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  4. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  6. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  7. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  8. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  9. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  10. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

I Read YA Week Kickoff

Today Scholastic’s teen community I Read YA is starting their annual I Read YA week. This year the theme is “YA stands for . . .” To celebrate Scholastic will be sharing some videos from their authors about YA along with some giveaways and other cool things.

I have talked about this a bit already but this blog is turning ten in a couple of months and as part of that I’ve been thinking about the things that have changed in those ten years and the things that have stayed the same and I as soon as I heard about this years theme, I knew I wanted to take part.

For me YA started as a way to find my people when I first discovered the YA section as a teen in my local library. Now, years later, it’s a way to continue finding and sharing books I love with people but also a way to hopefully help make the teens and YA readers I meet through this blog or in my library to find books that they’ll love and hopefully to learn more about themselves and how to be comfortable in their own skin and how to make their own small part of the world just a little better.

But that’s me. What do YOU think YA stands for? Let’s talk in the comments!

There are 3 easy ways to help celebrate I Read YA week between today and July 17:

  1. Share the “What Does YA Stand For?” Social Graphic (above): During I read YA week, post the celebratory graphic to Twitter. Tag @IreadYA and use the hashtag #YAStandsFor.
  2. Post Your Own #YAStandsFor Video: Film a short video stating what you believe YA stands for! Post to Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #YAStandsFor and tag @IreadYA.
  3. RT or Quote RT #YAStandsFor Video on Twitter: Share and re-promote #YAStandsFor videos from any of our Scholastic authors once they are live on I read YA’s Twitter.

If you want to do even more, there are also some fun daily challenges:

  • Monday, July 10: Tell @IReadYA what you believe #YAStandsFor
  • Tuesday, July 11: Tell @IReadYA about the YA book that helped you find your voice
  • Wednesday, July 12: Give a shout-out to your favorite fictional literary hero (tag @IReadYA and #YAStandsFor)
  • Thursday, July 13: Swap a YA book about the positive power of friendship with your bestie (tag @IReadYA and #YAStandsFor)
  • Friday, July 14: Create a graphic showcasing an inspirational YA quote (tag @IReadYA and #YAStandsFor)
  • Saturday, July 15: Choose a YA book and share 3 important life lessons you took away from reading it (tag @IReadYA and #YAStandsFor)
  • Sunday, July 16: Acknowledge a YA book you believe should be taught in high schools (tag @IReadYA and #YAStandsFor)
  • Monday, July 17: Snap a pic of the YA book you believe everyone needs to read (tag @IReadYA and #YAStandsFor)

I’m working on upping my #Bookstagram game so watch for some posts for these challenges on my Instagram for the rest of the week!

Everything I Learned From Reading Contemporary YA for One Month

Everything I learned from Reading Contemporary YA for One Month with a stack of booksHere, in no particular order, is everything I learned from reading contemporary YA novels for the better part of one month:

  1. A lot of teens want to go to Stanford. Not all of them will get in.
  2. You can love your best friend or hate your best friend or actually be in love with your best friend. You still won’t end up at the same college.
  3. Colleges no longer send out acceptance letters in big envelopes or rejections in little envelopes. It’s all digital. Except when it isn’t and someone frames a rejection letter to stay humble. Then it might be analog.
  4. If two teens are involved romantically and over eighteen they will have sex (or come close anyway).
  5. You can’t buy love or happiness, but you can win the lottery.
  6. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if a girl’s father is a mechanic she will know more about cars than her love interest.
  7. You can have widowed or divorced parents but you cannot have a daughter living with her single mother. Same goes for sons living with single fathers.
  8. STEM-loving girls are drawn to art-loving boys–opposites attract.
  9. There will be dancing.
  10. Teens might worry about affording their dream college or getting into their dream college. Teens will not apply to college based solely on proximity and financial aid packages.
  11. Everyone goes to prom. No one goes to prom alone.
  12. There will be pining.
  13. If anyone loses something of great sentimental value they are not getting it back.
  14. Some people might wear glasses or contacts but no one wears sunglasses.
  15. Even if it feels like the absolute worst thing has happened, it’s going to be okay because life goes on and you’re still heading toward that happy ending.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Re-Reading and Curating My Personal Library

I started thinking about this post when I re-read Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series this winter. Since I’ll be spending next week re-reviewing that series (based on my re-reads), today seemed like a good time to share this post.

I never thought of myself as a person who re-reads books. I even mentioned that I wasn’t a re-reader when I talked about curating my personal library.

I was wrong.

It turns out I am totally a re-reader but I still had a lot of curating to do because I didn’t have books that I wanted to re-read on my shelves. I discovered this in a very concrete way when I picked up the Queen’s Thief series for the first time in seven years. And wound up buying three sets of the series over the course of one month.

As soon as I heard about the reissues of Megan Whalen Turner’s books, I knew I’d be buying a set as soon as they came out. My plan was to re-read the entire series once the reissues were in hand so that I’d be ready when Thick as Thieves came out. My plans changed when I found out I’d be reviewing Thick as Thieves for School Library Journal (reader, I screamed). Thick as Thieves is marketed as a standalone but I wanted to have the series fresh in my mind so I could really be sure this book would stand on its own. (Spoiler: It totally does.)

SO instead of re-reading shiny new editions, it was time to pull out my rag tag set. My “original” set of MWT books includes library sale copies and one ARC. The library sale copies included two hardcovers I acquired at my first ever library job as a shelving page. Then I found a paperback of book three (and discovered there was a book three!) when I was working as a library clerk. I received an ARC of A Conspiracy of Kings in 2010 from Caroline Ward, one of my favorite library school professors who gave me her copy when I finished her Children’s Literature course. (Caroline is the best and gave every student in her class a book to keep.)

Maybe everyone else who re-reads all the time knows this already, but I felt such nostalgia when I picked up this series again and re-read these books I had picked up years ago. I love this series in a way that I love few things and it was amazing to rediscover these stories.

I also realized that even though I knew the broad strokes of the series by heart, I still had room to be surprised by the intricacies of the series. I’ll spare you all the details but I also discovered that while I remembered favorite lines and scenes, I often forgot their framing in the larger context of the story which added another layer to my (re)reading.

Anyway, I had a blast re-reading the series and realized I loved it so much that I became one of those weirdos with multiple editions.

So now in addition to my rag tag set I have a full set of hardcovers. I love having these because the series has changed so much (remember The Thief was originally published in 1996). Even The Thief and The Queen of Attolia are far enough apart that the aesthetic changes a bit although they have the same trim size. By the time The King of Attolia is published, the series was due for a complete reissue. I have to admit that these covers are some of my favorites. I really like the subtle nods to the characters–especially on A Conspiracy of Kings where you can pinpoint the exact scene used to show Sophos on the cover.

Since I love that cover art so much, I decided I should also get a set of paperbacks. I like this version of The Thief a bit more because it feels like it really is Gen and Hamiathes’ Gift. The cover for The Queen of Attolia has always given me chills. It works interestingly as the cover for that particular book but also in the context of the rest of the series.

And then it seemed like the series might have been done except for some tantalizing hints from MWT that she had more to say. Until lo Thick as Thieves was announced along with a complete reissue, special bonus content, and maps for the first time ever. I love these covers and have been poring over them basically since they were announced trying to pick out all of the details. The reissue makes sense with current cover trends and it also works with the direction the series is taking. Thick as Thieves is the first story that doesn’t focus directly on one of the main kingdoms (Eddis, Attolia, and Sounis) and as such it has a new cast of characters and a new setting. While I love the hyper-realistic artwork of the 2006 reissues, I don’t know what they would have pulled for potential art from Thick as Thieves. Seeing the series as a whole with this latest story, the new covers make so much sense and underscore the grand stage of these books.

Also because I have fallen so far down this rabbit hole (and accidentally found an ARC of The King of Attolia through sheer happenstance) I’m trying to complete a set of ARCs but that might be more than my budget and sanity can stand.

And, of course, I had to dedicate much more shelf space to the full set:

Since picking up MWT’s books I’ve also started re-reading other favorites from my shelves including Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Saving Francesca and its companion The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta. I’m currently re-reading Diana Wynne Jone’s Dalemark Quartet which is interesting because I only barely remember reading it and also because the series is currently out of print so tracking down copies took some time.

I think a lot of my choice to start re-reading right now is escapism. The world is scary and unpredictable, especially lately, so it’s nice to be able to return to stories where I know exactly what to expect and that I will love it. As more and more of my favorites go out of print or become scarce in the library, I also find that I like having copies on my shelves so I can read them at the drop of a hat.

Those are the things I’m keeping in mind as I decide what gets to stay on my shelves. Is this a book I loved? Is it a book I will re-read and love again? Is it a book I’ll miss if it’s gone? These questions aren’t easy to answer and sometimes my choices change. But for now it’s as good a criteria as any to decide what books have earned the right to take up space in my heart and on my shelves.

Do you re-read books? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about what books you own and why? Let’s talk about it in the comments.