Book Expo 2019 Recap

This past week I attended Book Expo in New York City with my book bestie, Kelsea. We had previously attended Book Con 2016 in Chicago and 2018 in NYC. After dealing with the pure chaos of Book Con, we decided to try to get into Book Expo. We were incredibly lucky to both get approved and in! It is important to note that Con is a fan event open to everyone and Expo is an industry event for publishers, authors, booksellers, educators, librarians, book clubs, and bloggers. We qualified in the blogger category.

Book Expo was absolutely incredible and totally worth it! It was so much less chaotic and more enjoyable than Book Con was. While BEA still had a large crowd, it was much more manageable than Book Con. The show floor is bigger and more spread out than at Con. There were still lines and a couple of areas with large masses of people (looking at you A Heart So Fierce and Broken and anything to do with Penguin). Overall, the vibe was so much more enjoyable at Book Expo. While there are obviously outliers and a few exceptions to this, the majority of people were polite, friendly, and mature. I couldn’t be happier with my experience at Book Expo.

Like Book Con, if you are going for advanced reader copies and signings, you MUST PLAN ahead of time for Book Expo. I had a schedule for each day with the panels, signings, and ARC drops I wanted to attend. Publishers release their Expo schedules in the week leading up to the event.

And now to recap my incredible three days. . .

Day 1

Day 1 at Book Expo was a shorter because the show floor was only open from 12:00-5:00. Despite the smaller time period, I still got so much in and done. Our first stop was to attempt to get tickets to Leigh Bardugo’s signing and Ninth House ARC drop. Going into this we knew that Leigh’s ticket was the hot item of the day. I knew that everyone would head to the ticket drop first and that it would go quickly. My philosophy was that I would try, but I was totally ok if I didn’t get it. And that’s exactly what happened. The line at Macmillan capped almost immediately after the show floor opened. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to meet Leigh, but I’m not devastated about missing out on Ninth House. I always remind myself that these books will be released within the next year.

Anyway, after our fail at Leigh’s signing we explored the show floor and did some shopping at the Unbound show floor. Throughout the day I was able to grab a ton of books and swag. I purchased a jumbo booksleeve from Book Beau, and a “Rattle the Stars” pin board, a Terrasen pin, and a Children of Blood & Bone pin from Wick and Fable.

I also attended the panel “Leigh Bardugo Discusses Ninth House.” It was a great panel and I am so pumped to read Ninth House. It was so cool to hear Leigh talk about her writing process. She is so fabulous!

Day 1 Haul
  • Here There Are Monsters
  • Queen of the Conquered
  • Beyond the Black Door
  • Winterwood
  • Cursed
  • Shatter City
  • Tarnished are the Stars
  • Queen of Ruin
  • The Storm Crow
  • Rise
  • Call Down the Hawk (Sampler)

Day 2

Day 2 was the longest day at Book Expo. The show floor was open from 9:00-5:00. We started the day with a bunch of ARC drops courtesy of Source Books and Fierce Reads. Then, while walking the floor, we found free mimosas! So good!!

Jenny Slate

One of the hardest parts of Book Expo/Con is having to choose between two events. This was the case for me on Day 2 when I had to choose between going to a highly anticipated ARC drop (The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy) or going to Jenny Slate’s signing. Although I was bummed about missing out on The Memory Thief, it was a no brainer for me to choose to meet Jenny Slate. I will be able to read The Memory Thief when it is released, but I probably wouldn’t ever have another chance to meet Jenny Slate. I am so happy with my decision because I still can’t believe I got to meet Jenny Slate!! She is one of my favorite actresses/comedians! Her new book, Little Weirds, looks hilarious and I can’t wait to read it. Unfortunately there were no pictures, so please enjoy my creeper picture of Jenny signing!

After the Jenny Slate signing, I headed over to one of the biggest ARC drops of the day . . . A Heart So Fierce and Broken, the follow up to Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely. This drop was one of the more dramatic drops, but it still went smoothly and I was able to snag a copy!! One of the best things happened later that afternoon . . . National Geographic brought puppies and kittens to their booth!!! We obviously went and met them all! I wanted to adopt a kitten so badly!

For the last part of the day I had a ticket for Marie Lu’s signing for a sampler of Rebel. I have seen Marie before and I wasn’t super excited about the signing so I gave my ticket away to a fellow book lover who was super pumped about meeting her. Instead of going to Marie’s signing I went to another panel. This time it was Laugh Out Loud with Jenny Slate, Pete Holmes, and John Hodgman. It was hilarious!!

While walking around on day 2 I bumped into someone. As I turned to apologize I realized that the person I bumped into was the one and only LEIGH BARDUGO! I literally froze and was so star struck!

Day 2 Haul
  • Wicked as You Wish
  • A Heart so Fierce and Broken
  • Little Weirds – Signed
  • Last Bus to Everland
  • Havenfall (Sampler)
  • Eight Will Fall

Day 3

Our final day at Book Expo was probably the most epic (and most crowded). The show floor was open from 9:00-3:00. Our first stop was to bolt over to the Macmillan booth to get tickets for their signings of the day. Macmillan is the only booth that required tickets for their in booth signings. We rushed over to the booth and I was able to grab the tickets I wanted . . . Katy Rose Pool and Cora Carmack!

After grabbing my tickets, I explored the floor for a while. This is one of the ways to get books and swag. I would just wander the booths and look for ARCs and swag. I stopped by the Penguin booth while wandering and was able to grab an ARC of Ruta Sepetys’s new book. This was super lucky because Penguin is the most frustrating booth. They don’t release any ARC drop schedules and are very sly about when anything will happen. The play dumb and then get mad when people crowd and loiter by their tables. I tried to get my hands on a copy of The Starless Sea all week, but I was never able to. I’m totally fine with not getting the book because it comes out in the fall, but Penguin made it super frustrating.

After this I headed off to my first signing of the day . . . There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool. I actually got an early ARC of this book at Chicago Comic Con (C2E2) and brought it with me to get signed. I wasn’t sure if Katy would be able to sign the ARC and the one I brought (sometimes the publisher/agent is very specific about what can and can’t be signed) but she did! She was actually so excited that I had two editions of the book to be signed. After Katy, I darted over to Blackstone Publishing for a signing with Coco Ma and Jill Criswell. I am excited about both books, but Coco’s Shadow Frost is one of my most anticipated reads from Book Expo!

After Blackstone, I headed over to Renée Ahdieh’s signing for her new book The Beautiful. I knew this line would be super long so I saved my front of the line pass (which came with my purchased avid reader pass) to use. The front of the line pass was my savior for this line and was so useful! I was like the tenth person to meet Renée which was so cool! She was so nice and her makeup looked fierce as always!!

Brigid Kemmerer, author of A Curse So Dark & Lonely

After Renée’s signing I met up with Kelsea and one of the coolest things happened. We were sitting on the floor reorganizing and posting to our instagram stories, when Kelsea spotted Brigid Kemmerer!!! We said hi and started up a conversation. She was so incredibly kind and welcoming. She actually sat down on the floor with us, signed our stuff, and even took pictures!

And then to make the moment even cooler . . . we said goodbye to Brigid and turned and saw V. E. SCHWAB! Kelsea called out her name and she turned and said “I am very attuned to my name.” She was also so kind and inviting, so we walked up to her and had a quick conversation. She gave us each a hug and then headed off to get her own ARCs.

Obviously, we were freaking out!!! I kept saying “what!?” and “what just happened!?” for the rest of the day. It was so cool to meet some of our favorite authors in such a natural way. This is a perfect example of how different Book Expo is compared to Con. If authors just walked around like that at Con they would be mobbed!! At Expo, the authors walked around and were approached by fans, but everyone was respectful and acted appropriately! It was such a cool experience!!!

Anyway, after all that excitement, we went to our last two events of the day. We went to Brigid Kemmerer’s official signing (yes even though we had just met her) and then to Cora Carmack’s signing. We thought our day was over, but we were wrong. Kelsea is a member of Cora Carmack’s street team. Cora sent out an invite to her street team (and friends) to meet up after Book Expo was over. In case you don’t know, Cora wrote Roar and its sequel Rage which will be coming out later this year. We decided to go and it was so much fun! Cora, Kelsea, myself, and three other women sat around and talked for almost 2 hours! It was so cool to sit in and have a real conversation with an author in such a natural environment. It was definitely one of the highlights of my week.

Day 3 Haul
  • A Heart So Fierce and Broken – signed
  • The Fountains of Silence
  • The Beautiful – signed
  • Beasts of a Frozen Sun – signed
  • Shadow Frost – signed
  • Rage – signed
  • Imaginary Friend
  • There Will Come a Darkness – signed, Book Expo copy
  • There Will Come a Darkness – signed, C2E2 copy

Book Expo was a huge success!! I had an absolute blast and I couldn’t be happier with my experience. I was able to meet so many cool authors and fellow bookstagrammers. I received a ton of amazing advanced reader copies and swag! I had the best time celebrating all things books!!

My Thoughts on “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”

This will obviously contain lots of spoilers for both Fantastic Beasts movies. 

I saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald on Thursday night with one of my best friends, Emma. We are HUGE Harry Potter/Wizarding World fangirls. I met Emma in college in 2011 and therefore we never got to see a Harry Potter movie in theaters together. We were thrilled that we could finally go together (we couldn’t go to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them because we live in different states). We both have A LOT of thoughts about Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. We spent about 2 hours discussing after the movie. 

My overall opinion on Beasts 2 is a mixed bag. There were parts I loved, parts I liked, and parts I couldn’t stand. 

I’ll start with what I loved. . . 

Jude Law aka Albus Dumbledore aka Hot Dumbledore. Jude Law was perfection. He was so Dumbledore. He embodied everything that Dumbledore is and was . . . he even had the sparkle in his eye!

  • Fun fact: My friend and I have been referring to Beasts 2 as “Hot Dumbledore” and November as “Hot Dumbledore Month”. We now even use “Hot Dumbledore” as an expression like “Hot Damn.” For example . . . “Hot Dumbledore, Jude Law is attractive!”
  • Random point – When Dumbledore looks into the Mirror of Erised he sees himself and Grindelwald with the Elder Wand. Since the Mirror of Erised shows your strongest desire, I think that Dumbledore wishes that he and Grindelwald could have remained together and found the Elder Wand together. I think Dumbledore wishes he could have kept Grindelwald from becoming evil and abusing power.  
  • I cannot wait for more Dumbledore! 

Newt Scamander and his fantastic beasts, especially the Nifflers. Eddie Redmayne was great in his reprisal of Newt. He’s just so adorable and awkward. 

  • Huge props to the casting department for the actor who played the younger Newt! I actually thought it was just Eddie Redmayne at first. 

Being back at Hogwarts!!! I starting tearing up at the first image of the castle. 

  • Side note about Hogwarts: Yes, Minerva McGonagall should not have been there per previous canon dates. However, I am not as pissed about this as a lot of others are. Was is necessary? Absolutely not! Did it add anything to the movie? Nope! But, did it really make that big of a difference in the grand scheme of the Wizarding World? Not at all. 

Grindelwald’s manipulation and rise to power. Now, I was very upset with the decision to keep Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. I don’t think it was handled well at all. He totally could have been recast considering Grindelwald was literally only in 2.5 seconds of Beasts 1. I decided just to look at Grindelwald as a character and separate Johnny Depp from it.

  • People like to compare Voldemort and Grindelwald, but we have to remember that Grindelwald was first. Voldemort drew inspiration from Grindelwald. Grindelwald is terrifying because he is a master manipulator. A woman willingly and excitedly killed a child because Grindelwald told her to! 
  • I thought the film did an excellent job of showing how manipulative and persuasive Grindelwald is. My first thought was that he is a perfect representation of a cult leader. He is able to identify vulnerable people and manipulate them into joining his side. A great example of this is Queenie. Now, I know people have been debating whether Queenie is acting with free will or if something in the tea cursed her. I 100% believe that she is acting with her own free will. Grindelwald was able to target her and use her greatest desire (ability to marry Jacob legally) to persuade her to join his forces. She has become brainwashed, but not from any magic. She was the perfect victim. I thought this was a great and totally unexpected arc for Queenie. I can’t wait to see what happens next to her. 

Nicolas Flamel. His run through the house. The Sorcerer’s Stone. Everything about him. I loved it. 

Now for what I did not like. . .

The overall plot.

  • I totally get the purpose of this movie. It was all a set up for the next three movies. It was a filler. I just wasn’t invested in the whole “Who is Credence!?” plot. It was ok, but not what I expected. More on Credence later. 

The ridiculous amount of unnecessary characters and subplots. 

  • There was just too much going on in this movie. It was hard to keep up. I was confused as someone who is extremely well versed in the Wizarding World and its canon.
  • Was the whole Leta Lestrange’s half-brother subplot necessary? It did not add anything. I was just confused by the extra character. Actually the whole Leta Lestrange arc was weird. I was expecting something different after her mention of in the first movie. That being said, Zoe Kravitz was spectacular in the role. 

Nagini’s lack of a role. I was so excited when JKR revealed that Nagini was a Maledictus. I couldn’t wait to find how she became Voldemort’s right hand. Unfortunately, Nagini was just a prop in Beasts 2. She basically stood next to Credence and looked scared. I know she will play a bigger role in the next movies, but I’m disappointed that we have to keep waiting to learn about her. One thing that I did really like about Nagini was that she ended the movie with the good guys at Hogwarts. Nagini was a good guy! What happens between now and Voldemort that makes her change?! I can’t wait to find out! 

  • The transformation scene from human to snake was so creepy! Very well done! 

The big reveal about Credence’s identity. There are three options for the meaning of Grindelwald’s big reveal. . .

  1. It’s all a lie. I think that it’s a possibility that Grindelwald is messing with Credence. His proof is that the Phoenix bonds to Credence. The phoenix was with Credence throughout the entire movie, but did not reveal itself until Grindelwald said Credence was a Dumbledore. Seems mighty convenient to me. Also, at the beginning of the movie, Grindelwald says that Credence is the one that needs to kill Dumbledore (I know that Grindelwald can’t kill Dumbledore because of the blood pact). It seems unlikely, but maybe Credence was the perfect victim to use. Grindelwald can manipulate him into hating the Dumbledores and eventually use his Obscurus to kill Albus. I think this theory is a possibility, but it’s not my top choice for what I believe is true. 
  2. It’s the truth. If this is the case I will be FURIOUS. My love and admiration for J.K. Rowling will be over (I’ll still love all that she’s created). If this is the truth it will not only change canon, but fundamentally change who Dumbledore was. There is no way our Dumbledore wouldn’t have told Harry about another brother. There. Is. No. Way. And if Dumbledore knew he had another sibling he would NEVER neglect them. And wouldn’t Aberforth have mentioned another brother?! It’s just not possible. I just. I can’t. Also the dates don’t match up at all. Dumbledore’s mother was dead and his father was in Azkaban by the time Credence was born. It’s just not possible. And for all those who say well what if Percival Dumbledore escaped Azkaban! It is possible! Yes. But, that would be overly complicated and far-fetched. Anyway, if it is true I will be devastated. I don’t think that it will be this option though. I don’t think (and am hoping and praying) that JKR would do this.
  3. The most likely option . . . Credence is the host for the same Obscurus that was Arianna Dumbledore’s. After Beasts 1, we all realized that Arianna Dumbledore likely became an Obscurus after the muggle attack. I believe that her Obscurus survived and somehow traveled to find another host. Credence is that host. This would make it possible for him to be part Dumbledore . . . the Obscurus was part of Arianna and is now part of Credence. Dumbledore mentions early in the movie that the Obscurus is like an evil twin. I think this supports the host theory. The Obscurus is only one part of Credence. And Arianna is part of that Obscurus. I wish I could articulate this better, but this is the theory I believe to be true. 

If it is anything besides my first or third theories I will be so damn mad and disappointed. 

Young Grindelwald’s eye.

  • I absolutely LOVED that Jamie Campbell Bower and Toby Regbo were back to play the young versions of Grindelwald and Dumbledore. HOWEVER, why did they give young Grindelwald the super creepy right eye when he didn’t have it in Deathly Hallows. It was totally unnecessary . . . they could have just come up with a reason why Grindelwald’s eye became all weird. 

Overall, I’m disappointed and confused . . . which is a really hard feeling to grasp for a Harry Potter world movie. I’ve never felt this way after a Harry Potter movie. I so wanted to love it. I’m reminding myself that this movie’s purpose was to set up the rest of the series. Fingers crossed that the next three movies will be amazing! 

BookCon 2018 Recap


This past weekend I attended BookCon in New York City with my good friend, Kelsea. We had previously attended BookCon when it came to Chicago in 2016. We’ve been dying to go again, so we decided to splurge this year and buy ourselves VIP tickets (I highly recommend VIP tickets if you are looking to go to BookCon).

We had an epic time! It was a fun-filled, exhausting, and a book lovers dream.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or what to expect when I went to BookCon back in 2016. This year I was able to prepare and plan out my day which is an absolute MUST DO if you plan to attend. I used the BookCon website and publisher websites/social media to plan out my days and find out when events are occurring. This is especially helpful to find out about advanced reader copy (ARC) drops. I also used twitter during the two days of the convention. I turned on the alert notifications for all of the publishers and authors I was interested in. For example, PenguinTeen tweeted out the “passwords” to receive certain ARCs. I wouldn’t have known this if I didn’t have their tweet notifications on.

IMG_9516One of my favorite parts of attending BookCon is getting to meet some of my favorite authors. It is amazing to be able to talk with them and express my appreciation for their writing. This year I got to meet (from top to bottom & left to right) Alexandra Bracken, Tomi Adeyemi, Abbi Jacobsen, Marissa Meyer, Laini Taylor, the Dear Evan Hansen guys, Stephanie Garber, and (not pictured) S.A. Chakraborty, R.F. Kuang, and James “Murr” Murray. FYI most of the authors at BookCon required a purchase for signing, but also signed items brought from home.

I always get nervous before meeting authors because I don’t know what to say! However, all of these authors (except the Dear Evan Hansen guys because it was extremely quick) were so easy to talk to! It sounds cliché, but they are book lovers just like us!

I unfortunately only attended one panel at BookCon this year due to scheduling conflicts. There were a lot I wanted to go to, but it just didn’t work out. I did attend Magic & Power with Tomi Adeyemi, Cassandra Clare, Marissa Meyer, and Brandon Sanderson which was super interesting and fun. I did get to attend a panel at Barnes & Noble the night before BookCon with Renee Ahdieh, Melissa de la Cruz, Marie Lu, Ransom Riggs, and Sabaa Tahir. It was awesome to be able to see some of the authors that I wouldn’t be seeing at BookCon.


Another huge aspect of the BookCon weekend is getting swag, free books, and advanced reader copies. It is so much fun to look at your haul at the end of the weekend. I added two pictures of my BookCon 2018 haul! I only brought 3 of those books with me to be signed and purchased 7 there. In total, I got 13 books (and 1 laptop skin) signed from 10 different authors.

I also received several highly anticipated ARCs that I am super pumped about – Rule by Ellen Goodlett, Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, and The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell. I am extremely excited IMG_9511.JPGabout all three of these books. Rule was the first thing my friend and I did on Saturday morning…we went immediately to the NOVL booth to get it.

I did not know that ARCs of The Devil’s Thief would be available, but I was talking with the girls at the Simon Riveted booth and they let me know it would be a prize at their carnival game. I was thrilled!!! I was unable to get it on Saturday due to atrocious lines for the game, but I made sure to be at the booth at exactly 11:00 on Sunday. I was over the moon when I won The Devil’s Thief. For those of you who haven’t read the first book (The Last Magician) in this series by Lisa Maxwell, I highly recommend it! It has all of my favorite things…time travel, fantasy, historical elements, magic, and heists. Also the cover is GORGEOUS.

Four Dead Queens was probably the “biggest” ARC I was able to get at BookCon. Prior to the event, PenguinTeen announced they would be having a secret ARC drop of a highly anticipated 2019 release. I knew it would be a long shot, but I wanted to at least try to get one. I went to the PenguinTeen booth about 20 minutes before the designated drop time and it was a madhouse! There were swarms of people all waiting and a ton of security. I luckily ran into two girls, Ivy and Drew, that I had met the previous day in line. We decided to stick together, and that was the best decision I made. Drew decided to check out the other side of the booth while Ivy and I held our spots. Penguin announced they were moving the line and everyone scrambled to get there. Since Drew already went that way, she was able to get a great spot in line. Ivy and I joined her and all three of us were able to get copies of the secret ARC, Four Dead Queens. Huge shout out to Ivy and Drew because I would not have been able to get a copy if I hadn’t joined with them. Meeting people is one of the most fun parts of BookCon. There are a lot of lines involved, so it’s nice to talk with the people near you in line. And it can pay off in situations like this!

BookCon was a blast and a huge success! By the end of the weekend I was exhausted and so sore, but it was 100% worth it. It was so fun to be surrounded by authors, books, and book lovers. I can’t wait for next year!!

Welcome to Tales of an Avid Reader!

Hello, my name is Lisa! I love to read, but I have never written my reviews down before. I recently started writing brief reviews on GoodReads, but I have decided that I wanted to make my own blog dedicated to my reviews and my love of reading.

I plan to gradually add my reviews from some of my favorite previous reads. I also just got back from BookCon and I received several highly anticipated advanced reader copies. I can’t wait to dive into those and post my reviews here!

I am really looking forward to sharing my reviews!

Please visit my ABOUT page if you’d like to learn more about me 🙂