ALA Annual was a couple weeks ago, but better late than never, right? I went to ALA for the first time last June and it was by far the best book event I’ve ever been to. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend this year (shout out to Claribel–thank you again for making my dreams come true <3), and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Awesome signings, eagerly anticipated galleys, an amazing roommate (my love Ava) = the best time EVER?
The answer is yes. HELL YES IT WAS!! Stick around for a recap of the 3 days I was there, plus a giveaway for 5 books (including ARCs) and assorted swag!
Let’s set the stage: it’s Thursday, and I leave for Chicago with my mother. We live near DC, so it’s close to an 11 hour drive. have to be back home for summer school, which starts on Monday at 8am, and we plan to leave Sunday after the conference *nervous laughter* We’re cutting things really close, but I’m so excited I don’t care.
Friday is only a couple hours, and only people with a full pass can get in. This means bloggers, almost all of whom buy an exhibits only pass, aren’t allowed in. However, the super amazing lovely Claribel got me an exhibitor badge, which means….I GET TO GO FRIDAY!!!!
I spent the day doing some sightseeing in Chicago, and it was so much fun. I got to see the Bean, Buckingham Fountain, and then we went to Navy Pier and walked around for awhile. It was so heartening to see Pride flags all over the city. It was definitely an amazing start to my trip.
And then it was time to actually go to ALA!! Ava and I got there a little early and we were basically reduced to two squealing girls as we waited for the exhibit hall to open.
At 5:30, the hall opened!!
Friday is a blur, honestly. I remember having italian ice, which was delicious. Basically, I was walking around the floor with italian ice in one hand, my tote over my arm, and books in my other hand. It was quite the sight to behold.
A lot of things that I did on Friday were spur of the moment things, so I don’t have any pictures of the actual events there. However, I did get to meet the lovely Amanda Foody and get a signed copy of Daughter of the Burning City (which I reviewed already). Mostly I just wandered around, got the feel of the exhibit hall down.
These were just the books I got on Friday. The great thing about going the first day the hall opened was being able to grab all my top books. Everyone was so nice, and I was nearly in tears when I got back to my home because GUYS, DO YOU SEE ALL THOSE LOVELY BOOKS???
If Friday was this great, how could anything top it?
Spoiler: it was definitely topped
Saturday was the big day. The first full day of the exhibit hall events and the day where my schedule was JAM PACKED. I relied on my spreadsheet so much, and there were a ton of things highlighted that day (and many events that were going on at the same time–eeep!).
So I got my tote bags and went to the convention center. I believe we got there ~30 minutes early, because it’s always better to be late to these things. Just like before, when it was 9pm, it was like the floodgates opened.
The best thing about ALA? My amazing squad I got to spend every day with.
The best group of people a girl could ask for. That’s me on the left, and from left to right, with their blogs: Lillie, Cat, Ava, and Bri. We braved long lines together and commiserated over heavy tote bags.
On Saturday morning, there was one thing EEEEEVERYONE wanted to go to. Marie Lu had a signing for ARCs of Warcross so we lined up almost immediately for that one. With the help of trusty Mom, I wandered around the floor while she held my spot. I looked around to see what else was going to be going on during the day, and then when 10am came around, it was time to meet Marie!!
She is just as nice and wonderful as she seems, guys. The line went pretty was, because there were SO many people who wanted to meet her, so I got to blurt out a few lines about how much I loved her books and how excited I was to read Warcross (I inevitably will review it, so look out for that review soonish!).
At the same time, my mom got an ARC of Brooding YA Hero, which I am *super* excited for! I mean, who can resist the swoony Broody? I’m really intrigued to see what the book will be like since it’s supposed to be a story/self-help guide to “becoming a main character as awesome as him”.
After that, my group did some more wandering (you’ll find that this is a reoccurring thing). The next event wasn’t for an hour, so we picked up some more ARCs that looked interesting and weeped because those bags get heavy reaaaaaally early in the day.
No pictures for this one, but I got to meet Chelsea Sedoti and get a signed ARC of As You Wish, an upcoming contemporary fantasy. I’m not going to lie–I was definitely intrigued based off the title alone (Westley <3) but the summary promises a magical, romantic story!
After a break for lunch, there were a ton of signings back to back. I got to meet Nic Stone, the author of the upcoming Dear Martin, and yes, her makeup is just as amazing in person as it is online. No pictures, sadly, but believe me when I tell you this book is one to look out for.
I also got to meet the amazing Kerri Maniscalco and snag an ARC of Hunting Prince Dracula! I was on the street team/blog tour for Stalking Jack the Ripper and spoiler alert: the book was phenomenal. Meeting Kerri was a dream come true; she was so sweet and I got to express my undying love for Audrey Rose.
Alright guys, try not to kill me as I go over this next part:
I GOT TO MEET ANGIE THOMAS *cue screaming*
We knew the line was going to be super long because Angie Thomas is a writing goddess, so we accepted that we would have to wait in a long line foreeeeeeeever. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that long! (considering there was something like 200 people in line). Here are some pictures of us in line, looking hella good after standing up all day and waiting in an endless line:
Then it was time for the big moment, meeting the author herself. The line moved really fast, considering how many people were in it. Suddenly, I was there!! She had a realyl cute southern accent; I knew she was from the south but I was still surprised to hear it. I got to babble out saying how grateful I was for her book and how excited I was to read it. Now that I have a signed copy, I really have no excuse to not read it.
This three hour stretch was packed with so many amazing authors I felt like I was on cloud nine. After meeting Angie Thomas, we went straight to a line for Sandhya Menon and When Dimple Met Rishi (in case you haven’t read my review yet: I loved it).
While I was waiting in line, the coolest thing ever happened to me: I met some of the amazing ladies behind my favorite writing blog, Writers Block Party! If you haven’t checked out their blog yet, you definitely should. All of them are super wise and constantly drop pieces of writing wisdom that always manages to blow my mind. It was so great to meet them in person 🙂
Right after that, I met Sandhya Menon! She is super sweet and kind and when I met her I told her thank you for writing WDMR, because even though it wasn’t for me, I learned so much and I was so grateful. My signed copy is now in a special spot on my bookshelf.
Right after this (I literally just turned around and went back in line lol) I got to meet Cindy Pon and get a signed copy of Want! I reviewed it on goodreads already, and I’ll have the review posted here soon!
As you can see, Saturday was absolutely amazing. I got to meet up with my blogger friends, I met so many of my favorite authors and snagged some fantastic authors–basically, if ALA ended on Saturday afternoon I would have been totally content. It was exhausting, but so so so much fun.
And the fun continues!
This was my last day at the conference and I was extremely exhausted but still super excited to go to the events. So I dragged myself out of bed, packed my car with my suitcases (because we were leaving the conference and driving straight home), and drove to McCormick.
We got there over an hour early, I think, because we wanted to get the special pins for Leigh Bardugo’s new book, The Language of Thorns. The competition was stiff (a little outrageous if you ask me), but we all managed to snag the exclusive pins! Of course, this was before the announcement that the pins would be at Leigh’s tour stops, which I’m going to, so :’) But it’s okay because they look beauuuuuutiful on my shelf.
After this, I went to three different drops: Invictus by Ryan Graudin, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp. I cannot tell you how excited I was to have all of these books. Ryan Graudin is coming on tour near me in a little over a month, so I’ll be able to get the ARC signed too! Other than the books, I also managed to grab this super cute bag that everyone wanted. I’m modeling it here with my friends:
We did more wandering as we looked for books, and we ran into the end of Nicola Yoon’s signing line! So, of course, we hopped in the line! I read Everything, Everything recently and I thought it was a cute book. I got a signed copy of The Sun is Also a Star and I gushed over Amandla and Nick with Nicola. I asked if Amandla was as beautiful and amazing as she seems, and she said yes! I’m still trying to find time to watch the movie and I definitely wanted to watch it more after having that conversation lol.
Following this, there were a *ton* of signings back to back. Sadly I was on my own a lot, so there aren’t many pictures *cries* BUT I got to meet Emery Lord, Axie Oh and Melissa Albert, and I got ARCs of The Girl with the Red Balloon and Love, Hate & Other Filters.
There was a large gap between events on Sunday, so I got to sit down for lunch for a good 30-45 minutes and just relax. After three days of constantly being on the move, having this little bit of rest was sooooo nice.
Then it was back to the signings! My mom got Wild Beauty signed for me while I waited in line for Dhonielle Clayton. It was so nice to meet her and get an ARC of The Belles (an updated, more diverse version of The Uglies–doesn’t is sound spectacular??). She was really nice too and I’m so excited to read her book–I just wish it was out sooner!
As soon as I got out of this line, I ran over to the Penguin Random House booth and snagged an ARC of Whichwood! I don’t typically read middle grade, but the premise sounds too good to pass up! Then I ran over to Sourcebooks and got in line for Linsey Miller’s book!
If you haven’t heard of Mask of Shadows yet, then I think you only need to know this: a genderfluid assassin. I cannot WAIT for this book and I’m so glad fantasy is finally growing and including more diverse characters.
This was my last event, and I was so sad to leave all of my friends before the last day of ALA (the exhibit hall closed on Monday afternoon). It was so, so, so hard to say goodbye to my friends and leave the conference center. I had the time of my life with my group of blogger friends and it was by far one of the best weekends of my life. When I’m at book conferences, all of my stress and depression seems to melt away until I can only focus on the happiness and the books.
Thank you, ALA. Hopefully, I’ll see you again next June ❤
I didn’t forget about you guys while I was there! With the help of my awesome mother, I managed to snag some amazing ARCs and swag to giveaway! Sadly, as I am a poor high school student, this giveaway is US only.
This giveaway will include:
- an ARC of A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
- an ARC of Invictus by Ryan Graudin
- an ARC of Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
- an ARC of Strange Lies by Maggie Thrash
- a finished copy of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- a sampler of Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
- a sampler of Renegades by Marissa Meyer
- Renee Ahdieh buttons
- Shadowhunters art cards (a random selection)
- A Game-Changers card