Where do I begin—what words do I even use to describe the crazy bananas that made up my first #BookBlogOn experience?
Prepare yourself for lots of word vomiting.
The Awkward Beginnings
There was this wonderful strangeness in being in a room filled with so many other bloggers (all platforms inclusive) whom reside in Ontario. Because if you’re unaware, pre-event Joey knew of only a handful—perhaps 7?—bloggers across all of Canada. There was a ballpark of 60 peeps in attendance. 60 bloggers. In Ontario. In this room. Mind implosions, dude.
I was of the latter bunch to enter The Ballroom’s game room where all the festivities were held. After receiving my nametag sticker (written with my own questionable handwriting), a raffle ticket, and a tote filled to the brim with books, I was directed to a table with a plethora of book-swag. I didn’t take too many because the realist in me would not know what to do with most of it.
Next, there was a table featuring books belonging to the authors in attendance. I grabbed a copy of Erin Bow’s The Scorpion Rules (YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, LGBT) and Leah Bobet’s An Inheritance of Ashes (YA, Fantasy, Paranormal). They had extra copies of Kevin Sand’s The Blackthorn Key (MG, Mystery, Hist-Fic, Fantasy) near the end of the event…and yes, I needed it too. At first, I did want to pick up K.A. Tuckers’ Chasing River (NA, Contemp., Romance) because #JoeyReadsNA is something many of you seem to want to see but then my hand gravitated towards familiarity instead. So…
(Click the images to enlarge them!)
With that, I set up shop in a corner next to the ping-pong table as most tables seemed occupied with people mingling. Hello crowds and anxiety! I chose not to open my tote to see what books I had received (because surprises are fun?). Thankfully, I sparked a conversation with Indigo (Adventures In YA Fiction) and one of the hosts, Liz (Midnight Bloom), and the event, for me, took off from there (well, sort of anyways)!
It’s those first conversations, you know?
I was unsure what to expect regarding food, so I did pre-eat before attending (#valuemenuatmcd #juniorchicken). Otherwise, the grub included tapas-style chicken skewers, mini burgers, fish and chips, poutine, and risotto balls, among others. I actually didn’t get to try the fish n’ chips despite wanting to. I’m still on a mission to find the best fish and chips in the city. But I digress.
At around the halfway mark, the hosts started up the raffles that ranged from gift cards to bagged totes (with more books!). There were many instances when they called out the raffle digits and it was 5-10 numbers off my ticket. With a stroke of luck, I ended up snagging a win! I had a choice between two totes and didn’t know what was in either so I reached for one and came out with the bag courtesy of Harlequin Teen! Seriously, amazeballs.
The “Holy-Shit-More-Books” Moment
We were then told that at 3:30PM, some leftover books that didn’t fit into the initial totes would be available for grabs. It was a first-come-first-serve basis. There were titles like Neil Smith’s Boo (YA, Coming of Age, Fantasy), John Corey Whaley’s Noggin (YA, Sci-Fi, Contemp., Humour), and Sam Maggs and Kelly Bastow’s Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy (Non-Fic, Graphic Novel, Humour)—all titles I’ve had interest in…
…BUT MY EYES LOCKED ONTO SCOTT WESTERFELD’S, MARGO LANAGAN’S, AND DEBORAH BIANCOTTI’S ZEROES (YA, Sci-Fi, Fantasy). I had my TBR planned out for a while, but this changes everythinnngggg. I was also in on a conversation with Patty (Bookish Wanderlove) and I forget who else, and it was her excitement that encouraged me to pick up Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche (YA, Contemp., Realistic, Diversity). I mean, why not? That cover!
The Construction of Bridges
There were a handful of other bloggers that I got a chance to mingle with and it was a blast speaking to each and every one of you! The conversations ranged from Book Outlet and musicals to what everyone was reading, blogging tips, and even Asian drama/music. Basically, the talks were full of randomness and life–what more could you ask for?
When things slowed down near the end, and I was packing up to go play pool with some buds of mine, Tiff (Mostly YA Lit) and Melissa (YA Book Shelf) approached and we had a light conversation that began as a tangent from me being that token guy blogger. I’m okay with that though. This just means that I need to do work in finding new male voices within the region that can attend next time around!
For the sake of full transparency, I think one of my most awkward responses (yes, this would mean it happened more than once) was when someone said “great to meet you!” and I responded with “thank you!” ……….LOL? No, I was not trying to be ego-tripping-ly vain or anything (I apologize if it seemed that way) but my mind was [likely] overwhelmed by everyone. Such a fail brain fart.
I left the restaurant with two totes full of books (the event runners weren’t lying when they said to bring an extra tote/suitcase/mobile-storage-unit) and embarked on my walk towards Eaton Centre. Thankfully, it didn’t rain as it was forecast. I chilled at the food-court for a bit and took that time to check the original swag bag. Insanity. Ah—I should have opened up the swag bag initially as I could have given The Merit Birds to someone else since I’ve already read/reviewed the ARC of it.
Carrying both totes was definitely my workout for the day (considering we then walked from Eatons to Chinatown then back down to Union Station).
Buuuuuuuut yeah, that’s the experience from my end! Though the 3-hours passed by super quick, I really wouldn’t have minded for it to have been longer haha. The most surreal part was definitely the fact that despite being present in a small pocket of this niche blogosphere, meeting up at events like this really gives perspective to the sampling of voices within the community.
I wasn’t able to take my own photos (for reasons of being engrossed in conversation), so here’s a collage of photos credited to Book Blog Ontario:
At the end of it all, I’d like to thank the ladies at Book Blog Ontario for hosting this event (here’s a link to their wrap-up post!), all of the authors in attendance (whom I was too noob to approach), the many publishers for their kindness and support, everyone who attended this event, and those who will attend this event in the future—
(^THERE IS NO PERIOD—THEREFORE THIS CONVERSATION AND EVENT ISN’T OVERRRRRRR)
Here are some other attendee experiences at #BookBlogOn for you to read about:
Are there any titles on your radar that I should keep near the top of my TBR?
(Disclaimer: image used in banner licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 via Flickr and Anton Bielousov)