BE(A) My Friend!


Off to BEA again this year and I am SO EXCITED!! Since there have been an array of posts going up on what to do, who to see, what to eat and so on, I thought I would join in the festivities and tell you how to spot and approach yours truly in the wild that is the Javits Center…This is meant to be cute and fun and my goal is to MEET ALL THE PEOPLE!! As always, for those of you new to BEA please feel free to ask me anything regarding NYC and the Book Expo and I will do my best to assist!

Important things to note:

  • I will be updating my Twitter (@withthebanned) A LOT. Probably with “This is what I look like today” posts.
  • I will apparently be wearing a lot of navy
  • You may or may not be blinded by the light that is actually just my extremely pasty legs shining under fluorescent lighting of the Javits center
  • There is a good chance that my hair will look like Monica Geller’s after she arrives in Barbados (“It’s the HUMIDITY!”)
  • There is a 97% chance that if you see Amy (@trippingbooks) or Brittany (@bookaddictguide) I am in the same vicinity.


*If you happen to walk by me and think “look at that completely unapproachable person eating nuts from her purse,” THINK AGAIN! I am just succumbing to the disease known as “bitchy resting face,” and I am also probably a little hungry. I promise I will be friendly once my attention has changed from snacks to you, and I have even been known to share my purse nuts with line friends, so don’t fret! Continue reading

Event Recap: Or, How I Met Neil Gaiman and Didn’t Touch His Hair

So I saw Neil Gaiman this year. Twice. That’s right twice; weeks apart from one another and mostly in promotion for his new book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I know, it isn’t too crazy when you take into account that I often exclaim “Oh my Gaiman!” in lieu of other Godly beings. It isn’t crazy, no, but it was slightly overwhelming for the senses. In the sense that, though I saw him over a month ago I am just now able to come down and let you all in on my FEELINGS about the whole thing…I will do my best to recap the two events and drop some blurbs here and there from Mr. Gaiman throughout :]

 “I wrote this book accidentally. It started because I missed my wife, and I wanted her to see the world through my eyes when I was seven….I don’t do feelings…because I’m English…and I’m male.”

First, there was the event at Book Expo America when I got to listen to him speak about why fiction is dangerous. Without being a bore, let me quickly walk you through it…in a nutshell: my morning was insane. We missed our train and then had PROBLEMS ON THE TRACKS mere weeks after the whole train crash debacle, and I literally RAN into Javits hoping beyond hope that I hadn’t missed my chance to hear Neil speak. My dear friends Heidi and Asheley saved a seat for me and I was so giddy from anticipation that when Neil came out, I cried real tears. The absolute awe I felt was entirely too much to handle. You see, this is the voice that got me through some incredibly rough times. The voice that allowed me to gain enough courage to drive through rush hour for the first time without becoming so frozen with fear that I had to pull over until my panic attack subsided. Reality hit and I became so overwhelmed with gratitude and utter happiness that I couldn’t contain myself.

 “Kids don’t need to be told what it’s like to be kids, they’re already there! It’s the adults who forget…”

Some quick things to note about Mr. Gaiman, he is a genius with words, and he is hilarious. Make you laugh out loud, hilarious. For example, when asked if he would ever consider another career, perhaps as a “hot librarian,” he answered that, “Hot librarians are apart from anything else, a very different gender than me…but yeah, the two professions that I fantasized about, that I could actually imagine wanting when I was a kid growing up were an English teacher and a librarian. They were the people that I loved and respected and the things that I was good at…well, I didn’t know that I would be good at being an English teacher or a librarian..BUT…when I was seven, all of my books…alphabetical order. The amount of worry I gave to Roger Lancelyn Green, over whether that man belonged in the L’s or the G’s…WHAT. What are you Roger Lancelyn Green?! Why are you writing these books and tales of the norsemen? Why can’t you just be Roger Green, or Roger Lancelyn, then I would know where to put you. Well, I put him in the L’s, and later discovered I was wrong!”

And then…well…this happened…



and my life was basically made…

“We don’t think of ourselves as names. I don’t walk around saying, oh look at what I am doing in my Neil Gaiman way!” 

Then just three weeks later I drove three hours to Saratoga Springs to listen to Neil speak again, and this time I got to meet him. To be honest it is nearly impossible for me to explain what it feels like to meet someone so incredible and important. If you haven’t experienced it, I really can’t put the feeling into words. Basically, I listened to the wonderful man speak about his new book, and he read bits of it to us in which the beau, who drove 3 hours  just to watch me react to my favorite author speak, became an instant Neil Gaiman fan. True story – he has gone through my entire Gaiman library at this point and is starting on the audiobooks. Then, and this is the best part, I got to actually meet Neil and tell him how amazing I think he is, TO HIS FACE. As you see in the picture above, there is an ongoing joke between my friend Amy and I that I need want to touch Neil’s hair, and I had every intention of reminding Neil of that tweet and informing him that I am not the kind of gal who just goes around touching people’s hair, but it didn’t all go according to plan..

Looking up and smiling, politely ignoring my flails.

Looking up and smiling, politely ignoring my flails.

Alyssa waiting in line: *bounces up and down* *makes girly noises*

Alyssa still waiting in line, 3 hours later: “OMG I can see him, he is right there * points * I promise I won’t cry!”

Nice woman assisting Neil with the signing: “You wouldn’t be the first one who has.”

Alyssa approaching an exhausted Neil Gaiman: *in awe* “Hello.”

Neil Gaiman: “Hello, thank you so much for waiting!” *smiles in his Neil Gaiman way*

Alyssa: *stares at Neil Gaiman*

* Neil Gaiman is handed The Sandman: Dream Country to be personalized *

Neil Gaiman: *caresses the page with Puck’s face* “Oh.”

Alyssa: IT’S BECAUSE I LOVE THE CHARACTER OF PUCK. HE IS MY FAVORITE CHARACTER IN LITERATURE!! (The beau says I did not yell at Neil Gaiman but in my memory I surely was not using an indoor voice.)

Neil Gaiman: *looks up and smiles* “Thank you so much for saying that, I enjoy him as well!”

Alyssa: *GASP* “Thank you, thank you so much for being you. OMG. Thank you!” *floats out of signing room*

Isn't it beautiful?

Isn’t it beautiful?

So yeah, overwhelming. He looked so tired and was still so charming and gracious, I could barely handle it. Then I drove the three hours home, while listening to the Evelyn, Evelyn CD we were given at the event, and became an immediate Amanda Palmer fan, so there’s that.

“How many secrets can you keep in your hair, and is that where the metaphors come from?”
“All of them.”

To sum up, go hear Neil Gaiman speak at your earliest opportunity, it is an absolutely fantastic experience that I can hardly put into words. Oh and read ALL THE GAIMAN BOOKS. No, seriously.

Related Posts:

Neil Gaiman, I Love You

Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Book Hoarders Anonymous (6)

June is here! That means freedom that the school year is almost over, which means I will have quite a bit of time to read ALL THE BOOKS! This is a good thing since I just got back from BEA and I picked up some excellent titles. I won’t be featuring those in this post, but check back for my BEA recap in a few days!

From the Library:

Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham – I have been eagerly anticipating this next installment in the series, I can’t wait to start! Also, did you hear that Fables is being adapted into a movie?? By the same producer as the HARRY POTTER films? OMG. OMG. OMG.

From Netgalley/Edelweiss:

Love and Lament

Love and Lament by John Milliken Thompson – Family curse, historical fiction!

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein – Companion to Code Name Verity!

Black Spring by Alison Croggon – Inspired by Wuthering Heights

Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones – Traveling freak show!

The Kingdom Of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal – “a single errant prick of a needle sets off a series of events that will alter the course of history.”

North of Nowhere by Liz Kessler – (MG) “The sleepy seaside village of Porthaven hides a mystery…”

A Wounded Name by  Dot Hutchison – A retelling of Hamlet!


Yes, I know that I was just on a three day trip in which I was given SO MANY BOOKS…that doesn’t mean that I can’t still treat myself. Right? RIGHT?!

Brittany and I went to The Book Barn, and while we were in NYC I also gifted myself with a few books from The Strand, and Books of Wonder, because…obviously..


Above we have The Last Tempation and Chu’s Day (signed) by Neil Gaiman, Oz: The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz (signed) by Eric Shanower, We Hear the Dead by Dianne Salerni, The Blade of Fortriu, The Well of Shades, Wolfskin, Child of the Prophecy, Son of the Shadows, and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen, What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire, The Thirteenth Child and The Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede, Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George, and The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark.

Sync is again offering free audiobooks throughout the summer, I was lucky enough to download Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, and The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

I was SO excited to be a winner from The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle giveaway on Mod Podge Books because look at the AMAZING artwork (and hardcover!!) I received!!

Hero's Guide Artwork

I was also lucky enough to be a winner during Candice’s birthday giveaway and she sent me a gorgeous frame featuring one of my favorite quotes, EVER. Also bustedtees and teefury had some awesome shirts (and sales) this month so I treated myself!


What Did You Miss?

I reviewed one of my favorite, and one of the funniest books of the year, The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy.

Sign ups for Classics Retold closed, and I decided to focus on Robin Hood. After much deliberation I decided on some awesome books, movies, and shows to focus on this summer!

A Song of Ice and Fire Read Along is still happening, and I am going strong! You can read my thoughts on book one, and if you are further along in the series, consider joining us!

After reading one of my favorite books of the year, I am able to conclude that I have a serious love for historical fiction novels. Check out my review of The Caged Graves to learn about the deeply layered, mysterious, and SWOONY novel by Dianne Salerni

What’s to Come?

As you all know, I went to Book Expo America and had a fantastic time. Look for a recap of the whole conference, and a separate author recap because I HEARD NEIL GAIMAN SPEAK and was amazing.

In terms of reviews, look for my thoughts on Bloodspell by Amalie Howard, The Name of the Wind audiobook by Patrick Rothfuss (OMG.), and some other upcoming titles.

I picked up quite a few books from BEA that will be used for giveaways, some of them are signed but I won’t tell you which…just stay tuned…especially if you enjoyed Code Name Verity. Just sayin’!

Book Expo America 2012: Recap

I have struggled for a few days now on how to begin this post because there are so many thoughts jumbled into my head that I can barely keep them straight! Let me start by saying that Book Expo America was an overall amazing experience and I am thrilled that I was able to attend this year.

So here it is, BEA for me, in a nutshell:


The Bloggers: I was aware that this was a type of networking event and being that I am still an extremely new blogger I was excited to take the opportunity to meet as many blog friends as I could. Looking back now it seems so silly that I was more anxious to meet my fellow bloggers than I was to meet some of my favorite authors! I met some absolutely LOVELY ladies whose reviews & opinions I really value and I came home feeling better knowing I can put a face to some names. I do have to fangirl for a quick sec and just mention that on day 3 I was lucky enough to meet both Ana and Thea from The Book Smugglers. Their blog is one of the only blogs I read before I started blogging, they were part of the reason I got into blogging in the first place and I may have fangirled over Ana a tiny bit – sorry lady, you’re both just as awesome in person as I had hoped! Finally, I might get a bit sappy here and say that one of the major highlights of my entire trip was meeting Heidi at Bunbury in the Stacks. Heidi and I had multiple classes together while in graduate school but as it was all online we had never met in person! We knew we were book soulmates for a while but once we met it was like we had known each other for years and I am grateful to call her a real life dear friend of mine at last!

Erin Morgenstern!

The Authors: I’ll be honest; I was extremely overwhelmed when I thought about how I would be meeting authors who I have loved for years. I was so surprised and elated to see how genuine and thrilled they seemed to meet me too! We stood in line for Daniel Handler, who I have loved for many years now and he chatted with me for a few minutes and told me he married a girl from CT and that he might have to stop by my library to see the new expansion! I DIED! I love you Lemony! We waited in line to meet Melissa Marr and to obtain a signed copy of her new book, Carnival of Souls and as people walked by they were appalled at how long the line was but you know what? It was so worth it. Melissa Marr was so gracious SHE thanked US for waiting AND then SHE HUGGED ME! It was so nice it nearly killed me. The third author highlight for me was definitely Erin Morgenstern. Erin was giving away and signing paperback copies of her 2011 debut novel, The Night Circus. Those of you who follow my blog know how much I adore this novel AND Erin so it was no question that I would be standing in line to meet her. She was courteous enough to get a picture with me and I tried not to pass out. There were of course many other great authors that we met. Jackson Pearce kept apologizing for making us wait in her line and I had to reassure her that it was my pleasure and I really couldn’t wait to read her book! Even Sarah Maas was apologetic and so kind that she told me how overwhelming it was to be there and she kept assuming no one would show up. Let me tell you something, Sarah, after leaving your line I had QUITE a few people eyeing my book and insisting I tell them WHERE I obtained it. Needless to say this was one I kept in the backpack lest some biting blogger steal it from my suitcase downstairs.

The Books: Ahh, the books. How can I try to explain just how amazing BEA was without focusing on the books? The books fall into a few categories. Some that I set out to obtain knowing that I would love them, and some that I had never heard of but now am elated to read because oh my god they sound awesome.

Obviously my signed copies are a majority of those I set out to obtain:

Signed copies!

Then there are some I had never heard of but sound extremely amazing, to name a few:

Seed by Ania Ahlborn
Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull
Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill

Overall the “book” part of the BEA was a HUGE success and really I’m not disappointed at all. Okay, I have to mention this because I obsessed over it during BEA and I am pretty sure Heidi will call me out if I don’t, I WAS disappointed I didn’t obtain a copy of In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz. So, if you are reading this and you obtained a copy I would love you forever if you let me borrow and read it once you’re finished (I’m lookin’ at YOU, Amy!) That being said if any of you see something I managed to grab that you want to read just let me know!

BEA was a complete success for me, it was everything I had hoped it would be. The 4am wake up, train rides, bus rides, and extremely scary taxi rides were all part of the NYC charm. Next year my aunt (who I thought I had dragged along but really ended up more excited and with more books than I did) and I decided we might do one day next year and include one of the author breakfasts. I heard Stephen Colbert was hilarious as always and Lois Lowry made people cry. Additionally, I want to add in some of the lectures next year because I think they would be beneficial, this year I had too much fangirling going on to make any of the lectures so that is one thing I have to make time for!

My final book pile and some very nosy cats!

Farewell, BEA, until next year!