Saturday, January 28, 2017

ALA Midwinter Recap

Guys. GUYS. If you ever have a chance to go to one of these book conferences (the professional ones), choose ALA because it is 1,000% better than BEA. I'm so utterly satisfied with what books I picked up and the people I got to meet. And the best part? NO LINES. (Okay, there were like two I actually waited in, but it was only for a little bit and people didn't start congregating around booths hours in advance). But whoa, I am getting ahead of myself here. We've gotta talk about the travel and after-hours too!

Somehow, someway, something always goes wrong. I don't know why, but my friends and I seem to have such poor luck when it comes to these conferences. So, I shouldn't even be surprised that we got a flat tire and it HAD to be changed with the spare halfway into our (mine and my mom and brother's) trip to the train station. And I shouldn't be surprised that we had to wait for a tow truck, that it took him awhile to get to us. But fortunately, he was able to help us change the tire, and my brother got me to the station 10 minutes before my train came. (He was the real MVP of this trip, tbh. I'm so grateful for my mom and brother for doing this. I'm quite blessed).

I managed to catch the 9:34 a.m. train when I was 100% certain I wouldn't. And I met up with Rashika at the station in Chicago, where we then got on public transportation to take us to the airport. The airport wasn't even as bad as I thought it was going to be. But as this was my first time flying, I was pretty anxious and my nerves were on edge, but Rashika is a wonderful travel companion, and we got through to our terminal with no problems. We grabbed some Mexican food and just waited. And THEN IT WAS EVEN MORE WAITING ONCE WE GOT ON THE PLANE. The anticipation was killing me, and I was like: let's just get up the air already I can't take this anymore. But once I got through takeoff, and got used to what it's like flying, I actually quite enjoyed it. I even grabbed a few pictures while in the air! And I watched us land in Atlanta the whole time!

(Atlanta was FULL of forests and little cul-de-sacs like this one)

Once Rashika and I found Shannon, and met Val outside, Val drove us to the hotel and then we went out to eat. We explored quite a bit of the city whenever we went out, and Atlanta is SO COOL. And so pretty. I loved my time there; I just wish we'd had more of it. We weren't able to do anything tourist-y, but it was still a fun few days in a city that I really want to return to at some point in the future. AND THE FOOD WAS GOOD TOO. I was super disappointed with Chicago in this regard last May, but we found some great places to eat. The first day we actually went to one that was recommended to us by Roshani Chokshi. Bocca Lupo. The food was fabulous, albeit small and sad portion sizes. And then we went out to Amelie's French Bakery, and I tried a macaron! I'm not really a fan of them, but I'm glad we stopped in because we'd meant to cake hop in Chicago but never did and we were making up for that. We also went to a Mexican restaurant on Saturday that was really good too; Atlanta's food scene was A+.

After a great night (and some wine, of course), we were READYYYYY for the first day of ALA. I had NO idea what to expect going into this. I just knew that it was very different from BEA, and that most people love it a lot more than that conference. And, after only one hour, I could totally understand why. Though there aren't really any schedules, it's not a hindrance. Some books were set out that you could grab, but most of the time, you just asked about them. And it was super easy to do that, even for this shy and socially awkward girl. ;) The people there were SO NICE and so willing to hand us books. I got a few that hadn't even been on my radar because the publicists were so excited about them and convinced me that I needed them. There was only one moment that we were turned down for being bloggers, but that was just because of the title we asked about (and we were able to get it the next day). We left the event around 1:30 because we'd gotten most everything we wanted and we were like: hey, let's just go hangout together away from here! So, that's what we did. :D

Oh, how have I failed to mention one teeny, tiny thing? I WAS SICK. Not sick enough to where I should've stayed home, but sick enough to where I just wanted to lie around in bed instead of explore Atlanta. I got a super bad cough the Thursday before, and it steadily progressed into congestion and a sore throat. Luckily, I have good friends, and they took care of me. I'm a little sick right now, still mostly have that cough. But I was so mad it had to happen on my vacation weekend. OH WELL. I tried to make the most of it, and I was able to enjoy Atlanta, my friends, and flying even though all I wanted to do was sleep. I just had to eat a looooot of cough drops. Haha.

Sunday came too quickly. I was not the slightest bit prepared to say goodbye to my friends when I had just said hello to them. At this point in time, I hadn't been all packed, I was missing my second pair of leggings (which unbelievably, I did end up leaving at home but didn't know that until I actually GOT home), I was angry that my plane was changed and Rashika and I were no longer sitting together, and we ended up having to walk to the convention center because of the marathon and traffic. It did end up being the best choice because an uber would NOT have gotten us there before 10, which was the only signing Rashika and I could do since our flight left around 1:30. But man, that was not good on my cough and lungs. And I was worried we'd miss the signing. BUT WE DIDN'T.

And omg I'm so happy I went. I've already read A Crown of Wishes, thanks to St. Martin's sending me a NetGalley widget for the book. But I HAD to meet Roshani. She's one of my favorite people, and I could not pass up this opportunity (especially as it was the only author signing I could make it to). And to my surprise, she recognized me straightaway! Immediately upon putting my bags on the floor, she gave me a hug and we got to talk for a few minutes. I definitely had a starstruck moment, but she was so sweet and I was so freaking happy she knew who I was. And I will treasure this photo we have together. 
<3

Rashika and I grabbed a few more books we had wanted, and then we said our goodbyes. It is always so fucking hard doing this. I only get to see these women once a year basically, because we don't live close enough to get together more than that. So UGH. I hate it. Every time. But luckily, the people at the airport were able to get us seated together, so I didn't have to fly alone (which was good bc I was not feeling well on the ride home and that made me sad since I couldn't enjoy the flight). When Rashika and I got to Chicago, we went to Portillo's because she knew how long I've wanted a cake shake and we didn't get to do that last time. SO WORTH IT. The burger was good too. And then. It was time to say goodbye to her too and get back on my train home to Michigan. *sobs* I hate goodbyes. But while this trip was super short, I do feel like my time and money was worth it. It wasn't enough time, and I may have been sick as fuck, but it was amazing. And I can't wait to do this again.

I won't be showing my whole book haul this time, but I did want to share the books I'm most excited about :D