Thursday, May 31, 2018

Book Expo Report - From the Front Lines

I was at Book Expo America on Thursday in New York City.  Many readers, librarians, bookstore employees and bloggers go to Book Expo to score books ("Readers").  But the major publishing houses are there for business.

There were approximately 212 free books given out by publishers on Thursday. On Friday, there are about 178, so there are plenty of books to acquire that are signed.

However several observations:

The main room where the publishers are is organized much more for publisher business. Separate areas (away from the Readers). This made more room for walking and opened up the area.

Unlike in prior years, it looked like Penguin Random House did not have any individual books for signings. In addition, there were fewer unsigned free books around.

The autographing area was set apart from the main room.  Again no chairs for the tired or infirm. Cold concrete floor. There were 15 lines there.  My recollection is there have been as many as 20 lines in the past. Also several signings were 30 minutes.  So while you could get optimally 212 books, based on timing and having the autographing area set far apart from the publishing houses, it was tough to get back and forth within the time period that books were available.

If you intend to go on Friday, make sure you are there early so as to go to MacMillan and get tickets and for certain other authors who need tickets. Bring a rolling suitcase and check it. Best place is under the stage near starbucks.

Plan out your strategy to get the books.  Dont get every book. Its impossible. Try to get the ones you want.

Big name authors have big lines.  Maybe check out genres first and focus on that.

The Blacksmith's Son

The Blacksmith's Son (Mageborn, #1)The Blacksmith's Son by Michael G. Manning
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mordecai was adopted. He has known it his entire life and he loves his adpoted parents dearly. He knows nothing of his birth parents, but that won't stop the things he inherited from his birth father from completely changing his life. Mordecai has magical powers and nothing will ever be the same for him.

The Blacksmith's Son first and foremost feels like a young adult novel. It's jam packed with standard young adult tropes. He's an adopted boy who learns he's special and from a noble family. His specialness will change the world. The story is chalked full of absurd dialogue that may entice a younger audience, but made me roll my eyes. I wish the book was simply listed as young adult so I knew what to expect immediately.

The story engaged me quickly with an action and panic filled prologue. It is told from Mordecai's birth mother's perspective on the events that caused Mordecai to live with the Eldrige's. The only unfortunate part about this was it ensured that the story would have little mystery as the reader learned about Mordecai's past before he did. It also made the book's title largely irrelevant as there is no point when the reader thinks of Mordecai as simply the blacksmith's son.

The magic system in the book was at times shaky. First I'd have to say the magic in the book is convenient overall. Different people discovered there powers at just the right moments to save the day. It runs somewhat contrary to the idea the story provided that mage's needed to have a teacher to learn magic. That was true at times, but clearly untrue at other times.

The point of views in the story were challenging. The point of views switched quickly at times with little indication they were switching. All the characters except Mordecai were telling the story in first person present while Mordecai was a strange mix of first person present and past. In more than one occasion I imagined a somewhat older Mordecai reading this book to someone and inserting comments along the lines of boy was I foolish. There are more than a few such instances in the book.

The Blacksmith's Son is an imaginative story that could have used some additional editing.

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