This year was my third year attending Book Expo America, which I think of as a bibliophile’s paradise. There are books everywhere! And people who love books and want to talk about books! The best part is it’s become a place where a lot of book bloggers gather every year, and it’s a great opportunity to meet these online friends in person and gush about books. My favorite part of this event is by far getting to chat with these people. After all, I can always buy the books I hear about later, but who knows when I’ll see a lot of the people there again! I had the best time at BEA this year even though there were fewer books I was interested in reading just because I spent more time having great conversations. I also had a lot of fun with my roommate for the trip, Jessica from Read React Review, and went to my first author breakfast, a breakfast at Random House, and an amazing event at the New York Public Library.

Since I already wrote about the books I picked up, I’ll skip over all the parts about which lines I stood in other than to say: I met N. K. Jemisin briefly at her signing for The Killing Moon! And she is so incredibly nice! Meeting her even if only for a few minutes was definitely one of my highlights of this year’s BEA.

Ok, moving on to the event highlights from BEA.

The Adult Author Breakfast

This year’s BEA started for me with the Adult Author Breakfast at 8 AM. (Ridiculously early mornings were a theme at this year’s BEA with my 6 AM flight on Monday, the author breakfast on Tuesday, and the Random House breakfast on Wednesday, but it was well worth it. It’s not often I say that about early mornings.) The speakers at the breakfast were:

  • Stephen Colbert, Master of Ceremonies, author of America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t (available in October), and TV host of some show or another
  • Junot Diaz, author of This Is How You Lose Her (available in September)
  • Barbara Kingsolver, author of Flight Behavior (available in November)
  • Jo Nesbo, author of Phantom (available in October)

As usual, Stephen Colbert was hilarious. He mentioned that his next book would be available in 3-D like the successful movie Avengers. Sure enough, the booklet with samples we got at the breakfast includes 3-D glasses. Colbert also talked some about the interesting placement of his recent book on some of the bestseller lists. One of them is non-fiction from which he drew the conclusion that non-fiction must now be books without vampires. The popular 50 Shades of Gray also came up, giving a whole new meaning to the “adult” in Adult Author Breakfast. (Sorry, couldn’t resist saying that. It’s really just called that to differentiate it from the Children’s Author Breakfast.) Since “hardcore porn” was now a bestseller, Colbert threw out terms for penises that sounded like the type of thing one would read in badly-written sex scenes.

The authors were all incredibly wonderful speakers. Junot Diaz gave a very heartfelt talk about his love of reading, his gratitude toward booksellers, and the power books have to transform readers. He also talked a bit about his own work and how he likes to write about men and boys with vulnerabilities. He’s particularly interested in the amount of energy that goes into being male and the sort of performance many men put on in order to display that they are manly. I really enjoyed his speech, both because of his passion for reading and the glimpse into his writing.

Barbara Kingsolver was a captivating speaker and was both funny and interesting. I really liked what she said about fiction being unique in that it allows readers to know what it is like to be in someone else’s brain. She discussed how the nature of story has not changed while formats have as well as the history of book formats and how there may have been resistance to change in the past. She pointed out that changes are made to make more books accessible to more readers. Before she was a writer, Kingsolver was a scientist. (She said she’d tell us more about that long story if they got Jon Stewart out there!) Her upcoming book is about climate change, but she also explores the concept of how different people can look at the same facts and come to different conclusions.

When it was Jo Nesbo’s turn to speak, Stephen Colbert had to note that his main character had a name that sounded like it was from 50 Shades of Gray, Harry Hole. This made for humorous moments whenever Jo Nesbo mentioned his main character and then glanced at Stephen Colbert. Jo Nesbo also talked about his early love of reading and his teachers’ concerns when no one came back alive in his essays as a child. He discussed balancing being in a band with writing and how seeing his books in English teaches him new words since English is not his first language (he is Norwegian). I really enjoyed his stories and his sense of humor.

I actually knew very little about any of these authors before the breakfast and mostly went to see Stephen Colbert. (Yeah, I kind of feel like a horrible reader admitting this.) But they were all fantastic, and I was really interested in what each of them had to say.

As for the “breakfast” part of it, I discovered I mostly paid the extra money to be closer than those who did not get breakfast. Breakfast was just a muffin or bagel, coffee, and orange juice. Sitting closer and the coffee itself was probably worth the extra money, though. (I didn’t do the most expensive option with the really close seating but the middle one.)

Science Fiction and Mainstream – Crossing Over Author Stage

This was a half-hour long panel discussion at BEA. It was moderated by Ryan Britt from The speakers were all signing books with TOR, and I made it to all of their signings but one (I would have gone to the other if not for being stuck in a long line!). Here are the panelists and their books, all of which are currently available:

  • Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (editors of The Weird)
  • John Scalzi (author of Redshirts)
  • Walter Mosley (author of The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion)

This was a great panel and I was glad I went to it. It’s been covered in detail on both and Publishers Weekly. There’s also an interesting discussion about it on The King of Elfland’s Second Cousin looking at BEA and speculative fiction that also discusses this panel.

Random House Power Reader Breakfast

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this event, but I ended up very impressed and thought was handled much better than the BEA Blogger Conference. It seemed as though the folks at Random House put a lot of effort into it with the decorations, amazing espresso bar, and the delicious food. I had an iced vanilla latte, a chocolate filled pastry, and some fresh fruit. It was glorious, especially compared to the food at both the BEA Blogger Conference and the author breakfast (and it was the only one of those events that was free!). Plus Random House is just a really nice building with a great view from the room we were in.

This was mostly a mix and mingle event, but they did briefly talk about the importance of book bloggers to the success of books before introducing a couple of authors who also told us a little about their books. Nate Berkus talked about The Things That Matter and Charles Duhigg discussed The Power of Habit. I have to admit that after the BEA Bloggers Conference, I was thinking, “Oh no, not again!” when they introduced some authors but I was pleasantly surprised. The talks were short and to the point and had more substance than “Buy my book!” so I didn’t mind this.

Photos of the breakfast can be found on Pinterest and Facebook if you’re curious.

BEA New York Book Week: Science Fiction/Fantasy Event

When I saw the author lineup for this, I knew it was not to be missed. Three of my favorite authors were going to be there as well as another author I haven’t read yet but have heard great things about. Plus Lev Grossman was the host, and I really enjoyed The Magicians and The Magician King (and met him briefly at BEA last year for the signing for the latter – he was extraordinarily nice even after signing books for over an hour).

Four authors did readings, and each reading was set to a piece of music specific to that work performed by Brian Slattery and a few other musicians. I thought the music worked very well with each reading.

Kristin Cashore read the creepy prologue from Bitterblue, her recently released young adult fantasy novel. (It’s a direct sequel to Graceling and a companion to Fire.)

N. K. Jemisin read from The Shadowed Sun, the second Dreamblood book that was just released this past week. I liked the sound of this very much, and I loved the first Dreamblood book so I was so excited to hear her read from this.

Naomi Novik read from the first of her Temeraire books, His Majesty’s Dragon. She’s the only one of these authors whose work I haven’t read, but I have heard great things about her historical fantasy series!

Catherynne M. Valente read from her upcoming Fairyland book, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. This sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making sounds AMAZING. It will be available in October.

I want to note that I thought it was great that half of these books were for younger readers. Fairyland is middle grade and Bitterblue is YA. Since I have seen books for younger readers treated like they are not “real” SFF at times, I was glad to see them represented at this event. (As well as female authors!)

It was also interesting that only half the authors read from paper books. N. K. Jemisin was tired of lugging around books at BEA and read from her laptop instead, and Naomi Novik read from her phone.

After the event, there was a brief Q&A where the authors were asked about everything from how it was working with the band to the gender question: what they thought about the claims that men like science fiction and women like fantasy. Catherynne Valente gave a great answer that basically came down to that’s crap and genre is not gendered.

This event was definitely one of the highlights of BEA this year, and I am amazed that not many people showed up for it at all! There were such fantastic authors there, and the vast majority of the seats in this room were empty. I know there was a lot going on with BEA that week, but I’m still shocked by this.

Some photos from this event can be viewed at Janicu’s Book Blog.

Those were the major events of BEA in a nutshell. At some point, I’d also like to cover some of the books from fall catalogs I picked up. I didn’t find all the ones I was looking for, but I did pick up the Orbit catalog and got the 47North catalog (Amazon Publishing SFF imprint) when I went to talk with their publicist about some of their books. There are some books that look really interesting in both of them!

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

With my BEA trip this week, I didn’t end up writing one of these last week even though I bought a couple of books and had a couple of review copies. This week is dedicated to BEA books, but next week I will be back on schedule and will get caught up with the few I missed.

Compared to other BEAs, I didn’t get a lot of books, but I didn’t miss too many of the ones I really wanted to get. There were a couple I wanted to get but didn’t get to in time or missed because of other signings (like The Turning by Francine Prose, Adaptation by Malinda Lo, and For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund). But I had the best time I’ve ever had at BEA this year and I think that’s because I ended up just talking with people quite a bit instead of just wandering around looking for books. After all, I can always buy the book later if I really want it, but I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity to talk to some of the people who are at BEA again.

Anyway, on to the books, and I’ll write more about BEA itself later.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland #2) by Catherynne M. Valente

This sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making will be released in hardcover and audiobook on October 2. I haven’t read the first book yet so normally I wouldn’t have picked up the second one, but since Catherynne M. Valente is an author whose work I already love this was one of my must-get books of BEA. The first book is supposed to be amazing, and I love what Catherynne Valente had to say about the criticism that these middle grade books are “too smart for kids.” She also wrote a great article on about the second Fairyland book and how writing it differed from the first one, a serialized novel she put up online.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a New York Times Children’s Bestseller, the winner of the Andre Norton Award, and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2011.

I’ll be talking about this more later in a post about BEA, but I went to one of the New York Book Week events and had the opportunity to hear Catherynne M. Valente read a section from The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. I really liked what she read, and I’m now even more excited about reading the two Fairyland books! (As an aside, I cannot believe how few people showed up for this event, which also had N. K. Jemisin, Kristin Cashore, and Naomi Novik.)

September returns to Fairyland to reunite with A-Through-L, Saturday, and Gleam, and to confront her shadow-self, who has become the queen of Fairyland-Below, the upside-down world beneath the Fairyland of the first novel, filled with creatures of water and shadow, tales of ancient Fairyland before the human world was born, and not a few hungry buffins, blind birds of ice and moonlight. The yearly revels of Fairyland-Below climax in a mysterious rite September must avert or else lose her shadow forever.

No Peace for the Damned by Megan Powell

No Peace for the Damned (Damned #1) by Megan Powell

This debut dark urban fantasy novel is coming from 47North (Amazon’s relatively new science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint) on July 10. It will be available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook. A second book, No Rest for the Damned, will be released in winter 2012.

I like dark books so I was very interested in this, particularly given that I like to read some new-to-me authors (which I haven’t been doing enough of lately since so many authors I love have had new books out).

To find out more, I suggest reading this article Megan Powell wrote on The Qwillery entitled “If I Can’t Be a Magical, Undercover, Secret Agent, At Least My Heroine Can.”

Magnolia Kelch is no stranger to pain. Beautiful and powerful, she’s spent her entire life at the mercy of her sadistic father and the rest of the Kelch clan, who have tortured her and tested the limits of her powers. After one particularly heinous night that leaves Magnolia nearly dead, she finally sees her chance for escape…

But this first taste of freedom is short-lived when she collides with Thirteen, head of the Network—a secret organization dedicated to fighting supernatural criminals—who recruits her into the group. Even as she’s coming to grips with this new life and the horrific memories that still haunt her, she’s conflicted by her growing attraction to fellow team member Theo and the emergence of new, untested abilities. After months of grueling training, her loyalty to the team is tested when she learns her target is the Network’s most wanted: the Kelch family.

Revenge may course through her veins, but so does the blood of the Kelches. And opposing her family may cost her the thing she treasures most. After all, Magnolia is still a Kelch. And the Kelch are damned.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

There is quite a bit of buzz surrounding this title, which is being compared to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games (yeah, I know).  I got to this signing 25 minutes early and still waited in line for over an hour.

Throne of Glass will be released in hardcover and ebook formats on August 7. I saw on Twitter that Sarah J. Maas is working on book 2 and is hoping the series will be longer than a trilogy. There are 4 Throne of Glass novellas being released as ebooks before publication. According to the page about the novellas, they “form the arc of how Celaena Sardothien, the heroine of ToG, went from the world’s most feared assassin to being thrown into the Salt Mines of Endovier.” The first three novellas (The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld) can be downloaded from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo for 99 cents each. The Assassin and the Empire, the final novella, must be coming out fairly soon since the book will be out in less than 2 months, but it doesn’t have a date.

I was really intrigued to see in “The Story Behind the Story” section on this page that this book started as a Cinderella retelling. Maas describes the premise as “What if Cinderella was an assassin, and went to the ball not to dance with the prince, but to kill him?” She says it has since moved away from being a Cinderella story, although the influence can still be found in a few places.

The first couple of chapters from Throne of Glass can be read at Page-Turner.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Breed by Chase Novak

Breed by Chase Novak

This horror novel will be released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook in September. An excerpt from Breed is available online. (By the way, Chase Novak is the pen name of Scott Spencer, author of Endless Love and A Ship Made of Paper.)

I thought this sounded interesting and creepy, but the headline on the Kirkus review has me wondering if I should read it:


A cautionary tale about the perils of fertility treatments turns into a gore fest for the strong of stomach.

Um, yeah, I’m not exactly strong of stomach when it comes to gory descriptions. So we’ll see about this one…

Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives-fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don’t have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after the next, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire . . . but with awful consequences.

Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.

Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.

The City's Son by Tom Pollock

The City’s Son (The Skyscraper Throne #1) by Tom Pollock

This young adult urban fantasy will be released in August in the UK and September in the US (hardcover). It seems to be too early for excerpts, but I really like the last line of the book description on the author’s page for the book:


The City’s Son is the first book of The Skyscraper Throne: a story about family,friends and monsters, and how you can’t always tell which is which.

Running from her traitorous best friend and her estranged father, graffiti artist Beth Bradley is looking for sanctuary. What she finds is Urchin, the ragged and cocky crown prince of London’s mystical underworld. Urchin opens Beth’s eyes to the city she’s never truly seen-where vast spiders crawl telephone wires seeking voices to steal, railwraiths escape their tethers, and statues conceal an ancient priesthood robed in bronze.

But it all teeters on the brink of destruction. Amid rumors that Urchin’s goddess mother will soon return from her 15-year exile, Reach, a malign god of urban decay, wants the young prince dead. Helping Urchin raise an alleyway army to reclaim his skyscraper throne, Beth soon forgets her old life. But when her best friend is captured, Beth must choose between this wondrous existence and the life she left behind.

The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin by Walter Mosley

The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion by Walter Mosley

This sounded like an interesting book, and I was especially curious after hearing what Walter Mosley had to say in the Science Fiction in the Mainstream panel at BEA. It just came out last month and is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

The hardcover is a neat book. It’s two books in one with a cover for each book. If you flip it over, you can start reading the second book, and the author signed the title page for each at the signing. An excerpt from each can be read on

New York Times bestselling author Walter Mosley delivers two speculative tales, in one volume, of everyday people exposed to life-altering truths.

The Gift of Fire
In ancient mythology, the Titan Prometheus was punished by the gods for bringing man the gift of fire—an event that set humankind on its course of knowledge. As punishment for making man as powerful as gods, Prometheus was bound to a rock; every day his immortal body was devoured by a giant eagle. But in The Gift of Fire, those chains cease to be, and the great champion of man walks from that immortal prison into present-day South Central Los Angeles.

On the Head of a Pin
Joshua Winterland and Ana Fried are working at Jennings-Tremont Enterprises when they make the most important discovery in the history of this world—or possibly the next. JTE is developing advanced animatronics editing techniques to create high-end movies indistinguishable from live-action. Long dead stars can now share the screen with today’s A-list. But one night Joshua and Ana discover something lingering in the rendered footage…an entity that will lead them into a new age beyond the reality they have come to know.

The Weird edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

The Weird Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

This sounds amazing, and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer were also at the aforementioned Science Fiction in the Mainstream panel at BEA (along with John Scalzi whose book I missed due to waiting in a long line). The Weird just came out last month and is available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook.

The Weird is a massive book containing over 1000 pages of stories,  plus a “foreweird” by Michael Moorcock and an “afterweird” by China Mieville. The earliest stories go as far back as the early 1900s and span the years through 2010. Authors include Lord Dunsany, Ray Bradbury, H. P. Lovecraft, Daphne du Maurier, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Tanith Lee. That’s a very small sampling of the authors included since there are a lot!

Unfortunately, I got caught in the rain after I got this one and my signed copy got some water damage. Oh well, it’s at least not so bad that I can’t read it.

A landmark, eclectic, leviathan-sized anthology of fiction’s wilder, stranger, darker shores. From Lovecraft to Borges to Gaiman, a century of intrepid literary experimentation has created a corpus of dark and strange stories that transcend all known genre boundaries. Together these stories form The Weird and amongst its practitioners number some of the greatest names in twentieth and twenty-first century literature.

Exotic and esoteric, The Weird plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities; you won’t find any elves or wizards here… but you will find the boldest and downright most peculiar stories from the last hundred years bound together in the biggest Weird collection ever assembled.

The Weird features an all star cast of authors, from classics to international bestsellers to Booker prize winners. Here are Ben Okri and George R.R. Martin, Angela Carter and Kelly Link, Franz Kafka and China Miéville, Clive Barker and Haruki Murakami, M.R. James and Neil Gaiman, Mervyn Peake and Michael Chabon, Stephen King and Daphne Du Maurier.

The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon (The Dreamblood #1) by N. K. Jemisin

As you may know, this is my favorite book I have read so far this year so I was thrilled for the chance to get a signed copy and meet the author (who was so very nice). This is going to be one of those books I treasure forever. Unfortunately, it’s another one of the books that got some of the worst of the water damage when I got stuck in the rain. I’ll probably never dare read this copy since the corner near the binding is yellowed and fraying and looks like it may fall apart, but at least seeing the signature will remind me of the great time I had meeting the author! That was definitely one of my highlights of BEA.

The Killing Moon is available now in paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The sequel, The Shadowed Sun, will be released next week. (I do want to note that there is no cliffhanger ending and the sequel has a different main character.) I haven’t read the sequel yet, but N. K. Jemisin read from it at the New York Public Library event I went to and it sounds fantastic.

The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, where time is marked by the river’s floods, there is no crime or violence. Within the city’s colored shadows, priests of the dream-goddess harvest the wild power of the sleeping mind as magic, using it to heal, soothe… and kill.

But when corruption blooms at the heart of Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru—most famous of the city’s Gatherers—cannot defeat it alone. With the aid of his cold-eyed apprentice and a beautiful foreign spy, he must thwart a conspiracy whose roots lie in his own past. And to prevent the unleashing of deadly forbidden magic, he must somehow defeat a Gatherer’s most terrifying nemesis: the Reaper.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behavior will be released in hardcover, audiobook, and ebook in November.

This book was given out at the adult author breakfast I attended. Stephen Colbert was the Master of Ceremonies, and Barbara Kingsolver was one of the authors who spoke along with Jo Nesbo and Junot Diaz. All the authors were great speakers, and I was very intrigued by what Barbara Kingsolver had to say. She was a scientist before she was a writer and this book is about climate change. According to the back of the ARC I have, it “explores the complexities that lead us to believe in our chosen truths.” In her speech, Barbara Kingsolver discussed how the same people can look at the same facts but come to completely different conclusions. This fascinates me as well, so even though this isn’t the type of book I’d normally pick up, I am a bit curious.

Set in a small town in Tennessee, about a young woman who happens upon a forested valley filled with silent red fire, and whose attempt to share the wonder and find an explanation throws her into a spiraling confrontation with her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large.

This week has been pretty quiet since I was away for 3 days at the BEA Bloggers Conference and Book Expo America. It was a very busy time since I had a 6 AM flight Monday morning and then a 10 PM flight Wednesday night, and in that time I still managed to spend 1 day at BEA Bloggers Conference, spend 2 days at Book Expo, go to 1 author breakfast, go to the Strand, got to a breakfast event at Random House, and go to the SFF Event at the New York Public Library. Thursday I was capable of sitting on the couch and monitoring Twitter and not much else! (I tried reading at one point and failed miserably.)

BEA Bloggers

Since so many people have already covered the event and panels in addition to their thoughts, I’d rather talk about the overall experience than repeat that part of the coverage. If you want to know exactly what I did, I’d suggest reading Jessica’s post at Read React Review since we traveled to the conference together (Hooray! Fun!) and attended all the same panels (and were both part of the group that ate lunch on the floor in the hall rather than be pitched to by authors and both left the same panel). My own experience can be summed up pretty well by reading her post since we went to the same events and I had similar thoughts about what I saw.

For more detailed descriptions on what was covered during the conference, check out:

This was my third time at the book blogger conference, but this was the first one that has been held since it was bought by Book Expo America. I did not enjoy it as much as either of the previous conferences, which I was mostly glad I attended for the opportunity to meet other book bloggers. There has been very little about topics surrounding blogging that I’ve felt is new to me at any of the conferences. However, in previous years there has been enough of interest that I was glad I went, especially since I have had so much fun meeting and talking to other book bloggers. That is not the case this year and it comes down to a lot of what has already been said by the other bloggers I just linked to: bloggers were not the focus of this conference supposedly about book blogging.

This was not completely unexpected since there had been some concerns about the conference being bought by BEA this year. Confusion started early this year as for quite a while, there was no information on what this meant or what would happen at the conference (unlike past years). Some bloggers couldn’t register, or registered and then were rejected, or were told they had to pay more than was listed. Once the schedule was finally announced, it seemed strange that there were so few book bloggers on some of the panels (notably, the one about the blogger/publisher relationship only had one book blogger).

And then…there was the video. I can’t describe everything that was wrong with the video, so I’ll link to it even though it feels wrong to do so. Titled “Get Your Swag Bag On!”, it mostly consists of repeating a few of the names of authors that will be there and “Get your swag bag on.” Because free stuff is what we’re all going for. *sigh* (For the record, I didn’t take any of the free stuff this year or last simply because none of the books were ones I would read or review.)

Each year the conference has seemed to be moving a little more away from being about book bloggers and being more about bloggers working with publishers and authors, which has always concerned me a bit. I understand that this is at BEA and there is a huge industry presence, but some bloggers really aren’t interested in getting books from publishers and prefer to read books they bought themselves or borrowed from their local library. If a blogger decides to do that, I think it’s great. I completely understand the appeal of that, especially since I find myself reading fewer and fewer older books as I get more from publishers (and I don’t even get that many ARCs/review copies compared to a lot of bloggers).

But I’m always a little worried that those bloggers will feel unwelcome or left out when there is always some focus on being part of this industry. Having no relationship with publishers and publicists does NOT make one less of a book blogger. A book blogger is anyone who blogs about books, and all the talk about what bloggers “owe” to the industry we provide free publicity for is offputting (to put it mildly). Maybe this fear is unfounded since the panel that focused more on the publisher/blogger relationship was up against one on community engagement so there’s another option to go to, but I’d be really curious to see what someone who has chosen never to receive review copies thought of the event.

It is tough to have an event like this that works for everyone because all book bloggers are different. They blog for different reasons, have different goals, and are each drawn to different books. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen anyone who really seemed at all happy with this event since it was more about promoting books than book blogging. I go to the conference to meet and talk to other book bloggers. I go to learn more about book blogging from the panels and the speeches. I do not go to be constantly bombarded with someone trying to get me to read their book, which is what happened here. You can read more about it at the links above, but the ratio of marketing to genuinely interesting discussion was just depressing. Even the keynotes, which were entertaining, had very little to do with book blogging and both were by someone with a book to promote. (Although I will say I did not get a vibe from Jennifer Lawson of The Bloggess that she was really aggressively trying to promote herself and her book, unlike Jennifer Weiner.)

The book blogger and book creator relationship should not be all about what we book bloggers can do for publishers. It should be mutual. Bloggers review publisher’s books when they have books we are interested in reading and providing coverage for. We get lots of email from people trying to get us interested in a book for review, and most of us have day jobs and a very limited amount of time for reading and reviewing. A lot of us have to choose the books we review very carefully, and having someone shout their book at us is not the way to get our attention. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Maybe there’s some confusion about what book bloggers do. I can’t speak for everyone since I don’t think you can or should lump all book bloggers into one category, but a couple of the reasons I blog are:

1. The book blogging community. It is a great place full of people passionate about books. It is a great place to go for recommendations or just to talk about books. There are many in this community I consider friends, some of which I have met at BEA/Book Blogger Con and some I have never met. I like to meet some of these people at Book Blogger Con and hear what they have to say on some of the panels. Unfortunately, very few actual book bloggers were on panels this year and not one was moderated by a book blogger. (Correction: There was actually a panel moderated by a book blogger as pointed out in the comments.)

2. I love supporting authors who have written books I’ve enjoyed by talking about their writing. I have no problem with authors coming to a book blogger conference if they want to chat with bloggers and listen to the panels – but not if they are constantly going to be pushing their books and starting every conversation with a spiel about their book. (I do want to note that there were some authors present who did the former so I’m certainly not saying I think all authors should be kept away.)

I do not blog for all the review copies. I’d be a liar if I said there were not certain ARCs or review copies I enjoyed getting, but regardless, I blogged for a long time without getting review copies. More often than not, the books I am offered or sent unsolicited are not ones I am even interested in reading. There is a line between telling me about a new book I may not have heard of and shoving said book down my throat. Crossing that line is only going to waste an author’s or publisher’s time and make me even less interested in reviewing the work. Particularly after I’ve spent money to travel to a conference where I want to talk about blogging as a process, not find new books – that is what BEA itself is for (among other things), not the Blogger Con. I’d much rather spend money on books that are interesting to me than have free copies of books I’ll never read tossed into my bag. Those things get heavy, you know.

In any case, I felt that this year’s blogger conference was not worth the time and money and it definitely didn’t aid my main goal for attending: meeting and learning from other book bloggers. If I hadn’t abandoned the planned lunch to sit in the hall, there would have been almost no time at all to actually talk to the bloggers I really came to talk to. While I hope they listen to the actual book bloggers who would like something different and improve next year, I am not sure I will be attending. I definitely will not be if they show no signs of improvement, especially if some bloggers choose to organize the Book Blog UNCON again next year. It sounds like they had a fantastic time.

More posts on the BEA Bloggers Conference (not already linked to above):

Instead of writing one huge post of all the books I’m looking forward to in 2012 with info on them, I had decided to highlight some of these books in their own posts throughout the rest of 2011. I’ve decided to carry this feature forward into this year as I discover new books coming out this year that sound interesting and continue with books of 2013 as it gets closer to the end of the year.

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

This is just one of those books I love the sound of. Plus I find it appealing that it’s a self-contained book with less than 200 pages. While I do love long stories, sometimes it’s nice to read a story that doesn’t require a huge chunk of time to complete! The Emperor’s Soul will be released in trade paperback in November.

About The Emperor’s Soul:

From the bestselling author of the Mistborn Trilogy and co-author of the final three books of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series comes the tale of a heretic thief who is the only hope for the survival of an empire.

Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Though condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Despite the fact that her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead from the attack of assassins.

Delving deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that her forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.

Skillfully deducing the machinations of her captors, Shai needs a perfect plan to escape. The fate of the kingdom lies in one impossible task. Is it possible to create a forgery of a soul so convincing that it is better than the soul itself?

Other Books of 2012:

The Killing Moon
by N. K. Jemisin
404pp (Paperback/Ebook)
My Rating: 9.5/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.33/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.13/5

The Killing Moon is the first book of the Dreamblood, a new Egyptian-inspired fantasy duology by N. K. Jemisin, whose Inheritance trilogy has books that were nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards. It was released in trade paperback and ebook earlier this month, and The Shadowed Sun (Dreamblood 2) will be available next month. Rest assured that despite the small wait between volumes, there is no cliff-hanger ending at the end of The Killing Moon, and the next book has a different set of main characters. This novel’s storyline feels resolved, but it also definitely leaves space for exploring what happens after this resolution.

Gujaareh is a land of peace devoted to the worship of the dream goddess Hananja. To maintain this peace and order, their warrior-priests (or Gatherers) are trained to kill, both by physical and magical means. Gatherers must be able to hold their own in a fight, and they must also be able to sneak into homes where they send those they have been ordered to kill to their favorite place in a dream – where they remain forever once the Gatherer has cut their ties to the waking world. In return, the Gatherer collects their dreamblood, which can then be used to help others, such as by healing those who are ill. Sometimes a Gatherer is sent to kill the corrupt and other times they are requested to bring peace to those who are suffering or dying, but a Gatherer does not question the rightness of his actions. He does what he must in the service of Hananja for the benefit of all Gujaareh, as have those who came before him.

Ehiru, the best of the Gatherers, has had to spend more of his nights gathering with the recent death of his mentor. On one such night, he has an experience he has never had before that shakes him to his core – he performs a Gathering that does not go well and does not end peacefully for the corrupted merchant he was sent to kill. While it does not have him questioning his faith or purpose of Gathering, it does have him questioning his abilities – at least until he is sent to kill Sunandi, a spy from neighboring Kisua. Sunandi has been investigating the circumstances of the death of her own mentor, and she is quite horrified when she uncovers the secrets he learned before his untimely death. When Sunandi mentions some happenings that correspond with Ehiru’s experiences on the night of his Gathering that went wrong, it makes him question the reality of Gujaareh’s structure and what is going on beneath the surface.

The Killing Moon is a fantastic book and my personal favorite I’ve read so far this year. It’s a book that excels on all levels – the writing, world, characters, and story all worked for me. In fact, I’m having trouble thinking of anything that I didn’t like about it. It was a little slow a couple of times, but it wasn’t really slow enough for long enough that it stands out as a flaw to me. It also didn’t have the same emotional impact that came with a single main character’s viewpoint in the Inheritance books, but that didn’t really bother me, either, since I thought this was a stronger book overall and it did still have memorable scenes.

First of all, The Killing Moon is very different from the Inheritance books in quite a few ways. It’s told from multiple perspectives in the third person instead of one first person viewpoint so it doesn’t have the intensely personal, chatty narrative style the previous books did. Also, there’s no romantic subplot and the world is much more ordered than the chaos of the godlings. For all its differences, there are some general similarities since Gujaareh is influenced by its goddess even though she and the other gods aren’t out walking among the people and there is a theme of history being rewritten by those in power. Even with the feeling of more distance from the characters, I found them more interesting than many of the ones in the Inheritance novels and I was still rather attached to some of them by the end.

From the very opening chapter, I was drawn in by the way it detailed a night of Gathering for Ehiru. It was very dark, but I enjoyed seeing this from Ehiru’s perspective, particularly as it introduced him as someone with the qualities Sunandi later noted – a blend of compassion and ruthlessness. Despite being a killer, the first time we see Ehiru kill is out of mercy for an old dying man who is perfectly content to leave his misery behind. Yet in the same chapter we also see him kill someone who doesn’t really want to die in the Gathering that goes wrong. Ehiru is one of those people who absolutely believes he is doing the right thing and has faith in what his religious system has told him. The assassin with a heart of gold is a common trope, but Ehiru isn’t doing it for money or survival but out of pure religious fervor. In spite of the way he holds fast to this belief system, he is very likable. He questions what he believes when presented with evidence, and he is kind with great strength of character. Throughout the book, he also has to fight his own internal demons since there is a struggle Gatherers must face against their own nature the longer they collect dreamblood in this manner.

While I’d call Ehiru the main protagonist, there are two other major characters, Ehiru’s apprentice Njiri and Sunandi, the ambassador from Kisua who discovers all is not right in the nation-state of Gujaareh. Both of them were great characters. Njiri is newly apprenticed to Ehiru and has to face a tough test under the circumstances. He is both naive due to his young age and wise for his young age and he has lots of resolve and inner strength. His relationship with Ehiru is complex, as Njiri seems to view him as a mixture of father, mentor, savior, friend, and someone he has romantic feelings for. Sunandi is a savvy spy who understands politics well, and like the other two she has lots of determination. All of them encounter tough situations that showcase just how much inner strength they all have. What I really enjoyed about getting the perspectives of all three of them is that Sunandi has completely opposing views from the two Gatherers, yet I could understand both perspectives and relate to all three of them. Sunandi finds the practice of Gathering and the way Gujaareh is run abhorrent while Ehiru and Njiri believe death is a natural part of the life cycle and not to be feared. Both viewpoints are a result of their cultural upbringings, and both of them make sense based on the experiences these characters had.

While these three are the main characters, there are several other perspectives, including one of the other Gatherers, the Superior of the Hetawa (Hananja’s temple), and the Prince. All the different characters were very believable with realistic motivations for behaving the way they did. The villain had no qualms about doing terrible things but also had some motives that made sense. There were reasons for being driven to the point of villainy, and it was not just due to an innate evil nature. This is the type of villain I like, one who is capable of evil but also didn’t set out on the path of evil until there was a motivation that set it in motion.

What continues to impress me about N. K. Jemisin’s writing is that it is simultaneously simple and complex. It’s easy to read and follow, but at the same time there is this huge, well-constructed world to discover over the course of the novel. This world with its social structure and rules is detailed and fully fleshed out, and between that and its characters, it seems vividly real. N. K. Jemisin has real skill in weaving this into the story – it’s very different from our world, but it’s also not told in one big infodump and it’s also not terribly confusing. It’s told by being immersed in the story, through living it, through the eyes of the characters. As the story continues, more is learned about the world and the rules of the Gatherers. Part of this is through some interludes discussing some myths and the few opening lines at the start of the chapters, but it all ties together beautifully to paint a picture of Gujaareh.

The Killing Moon has many familiar themes, including many of my own favorites such as power, corruption, religion, the pursuit of truth, and ingrained cultural societies that are not as ideal as they may seem on the surface. Taken by themselves, these are not incredibly original themes (although they are ones I am personally drawn to and love to read about), but both the story and the amazing world-building contribute to keeping them from feeling at all recycled or stale.

I loved The Killing Moon; it is exactly my sort of fantasy book. It’s dark, not all ends happily, and there is a price for magic. The characters are likable but face difficult decisions that put them to the test and exhibit what they’re made of. At the end of the book, they’re not at the same place they started from but have learned over the course of their journey. All this takes place in a well-built, detailed world that gradually unfolds and is vividly alive. Reading The Killing Moon was a treat and I can hardly wait to see what’s in store in The Shadowed Sun.

My Rating: 9.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the publisher.

Read Excerpts from The Killing Moon:

Other Reviews:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This week brought 1 ARC and 3 review copies, 2 of which I’m VERY excited about. I’m already reading one of them now.

Sharps by K. J. Parker

Sharps by K. J. Parker

K. J. Parker’s latest book will be released on July 17 (trade paperback, ebook). I just started it this weekend. I haven’t gotten far yet since I’m trying to get caught up on reviews before going to BEA, but it’s very promising so far! Ever since reading The Folding Knife, I’ve wanted to read more by K. J. Parker so I’m really excited about reading this. The Folding Knife was fantastic and I’ve heard great things about Parker’s other books as well.

K.J. Parker’s new novel is a perfectly executed tale of intrigue and deception.

For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighbouring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money…

Now, there is a chance for peace. Diplomatic talks have begun and with them, the games. Two teams of fencers represent their nations at this pivotal moment.

When the future of the world lies balanced on the point of a rapier, one misstep could mean ruin for all. Human nature being what it is, does peace really have a chance?

The Shadowed Sun by N. K. Jemisin

The Shadowed Sun (The Dreamblood #2) by N. K. Jemisin

The first Dreamblood book, The Killing Moon, was released earlier this month. I’m working on a review of it now that should be up sometime this week, but basically I loved it. It’s my favorite book I’ve read so far this year so I am really excited about reading the second book!

The Shadowed Sun will be released in trade paperback and ebook formats on June 12. Chapter One is available on the author’s website (she says that only chapter one is there right now because the following chapters have spoilers for The Killing Moon so it should be safe to read if you haven’t read that yet).

Gujaareh, the city of dreams, suffers under the imperial rule of the Kisuati Protectorate. A city where the only law was peace now knows violence and oppression. And nightmares: a mysterious and deadly plague haunts the citizens of Gujaareh, dooming the infected to die screaming in their sleep. Trapped between dark dreams and cruel overlords, the people yearn to rise up—but Gujaareh has known peace for too long.

Someone must show them the way.

Hope lies with two outcasts: the first woman ever allowed to join the dream goddess’ priesthood, and an exiled prince who longs to reclaim his birthright. Together, they must resist the Kisuati occupation and uncover the source of the killing dreams… before Gujaareh is lost forever.

Silver by Rhiannon Held

Silver by Rhiannon Held

This debut urban fantasy novel about werewolves will be released in trade paperback and ebook on June 5. According to the author’s website, this is the first book in a series although I can’t find the name of it there or on the press release that came with the book. An excerpt from Silver is available on

Andrew Dare is a werewolf. He’s the enforcer for the Roanoke pack, and responsible for capturing or killing any Were intruders in Roanoke’s territory. But the lone Were he’s tracking doesn’t smell or act like anyone he’s ever encountered. And when he catches her, it doesn’t get any better. She’s beautiful, she’s crazy, and someone has tortured her by injecting silver into her veins. She says her name is Silver, and that she’s lost her wild self and can’t shift any more.

The packs in North America have a live-and-let-live attitude, and try not to overlap with each other. But Silver represents a terrible threat to every Were on the continent.

Andrew and Silver will join forces to track down this menace while discovering their own power and their passion for each other.

Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione

Lethal Rider (Lords of Deliverance #3) by Larissa Ione

The first two Lords of Deliverance books are Eternal Rider and Immortal Rider. An excerpt from Lethal Rider is available on the author’s website. This book was released in mass market paperback and ebook formats on May 22 in the US and will be released on June 1 in the UK.

I’m not much of a paranormal romance reader so I don’t know much about this series, but readers on Goodreads seemed to like this installment quite a bit.

They’re here. They ride. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Born of a match between good and evil, four siblings stand between hell’s minions and everything they want to destroy. They are the Lords of Deliverance, and they have the power to ward off Doomsday…or let it ride…


Thanatos, the most deadly Horseman of the Apocalypse, has endured thousands of years of celibacy to prevent the end of days. But just one night with the wickedly sexy Aegis Guardian, Regan Cooper, shatters centuries of resolve. Yet their passion comes with a price. And Thanatos must face a truth more terrifying than an apocalypse-he’s about to become a father.

Demon-slayer Regan Cooper never imagined herself the maternal type, but with the fate of the world hanging in the balance she had no choice but to seduce Thanatos and bear his child. Now, as the final battle draws closer and his rage at being betrayed is overshadowed by an undeniable passion for the mother of his child, Thanatos has a life-shattering realization: To save the world, he must sacrifice the only thing he’s ever wanted-a family.