My Neil Gaiman Book Signing Adventure

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Neil Gaiman book signing.

And. It. Was. Epic!

16464868382_44a3911f73_kIt all began when a friend posted about the event on Facebook. At first, I hesitated because:

  1. The signing landed on a work day.
  2. It was at Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins (about an hour and a half north of where I live).
  3. I didn’t want to go alone…Yep, I can be a scaredy cat who needs someone to hold her hand when she’s completely out of her element.

My resistance, however, crumbled when my friend solved two of my three dilemmas. He offered both company and a ride. I happily scheduled the day off of work and spent the next two weeks preparing myself to meet one of the most influential, inspiring, and creative authors around.

Yes. An adventure…

Dear God! I had no idea the book signing would be such an adventure. I completely underestimated Neil Gaiman’s popularity.

The epic day began when my friend and I departed Denver at 1 p.m. With the signing starting at 4 p.m., we figured this would give us plenty of time to deal with traffic, drive to Fort Collins, find the bookstore, and get a decent place in line.

Yeah, wishful thinking!

As we pulled up to the bookstore, I asked, “Is that the line?”

“Yeah, I think so.” My friend looked equally shocked by the crowd stretching from the bookstore’s entrance, down the sidewalk, and around the building. We parked the car, hurried across the street, and searched for the end of the line.

And searched…And searched…And searched…

Seriously! There were so many people. I couldn’t believe it.

We finally found the end of the line and hopped in. While we waited for the signing to begin, we marveled at Gaiman’s popularity, the ever growing line, and the eclectic crowd. It seemed everyone and their brother loved Neil Gaiman.

As my friend and I discussed some of Gaiman’s work, a woman behind us jumped into our conversation. Then the guy behind her jumped in as well. And, before we knew it, we were in a small chattering group.

Side note: It always amazes me how quickly book nerds bond. You can be total strangers one minute and best friends the next.

After about an hour, the line started moving.

An enthusiastic cheer went up!

…And then quickly died when we only moved a few feet.

Yeah, in that moment, I knew it was going to be a loooooong afternoon. But, hey, at least it was warm! We’d lucked out with the weather that day–an unseasonably warm 75 degrees!

In fact, it was so warm, I’d decided to leave my jacket at home. Why would I need one when I’d be back in the car by the time the sun set?

Yet another idiotic assumption on my part.

For the first three or so hours in line, I was relatively comfortable. My feet hurt a little, I was a tad hungry, and a bathroom break would’ve been nice. But nothing major. I could easily deal with it all.

Then the sun slowly set…

As the temperatures slipped and the first shiver hit me, my friend kindly offered to go get his jacket for me in his car. And what did I say? “Nah, I’m good. But, thanks.”

Gah! I’m so stupid and stubborn and stupid!

Note to self: It’s okay to accept help from others. You don’t have to suffer because you’re too proud to show weakness.

Thankfully, a bookstore employee came by with hand warmers and I was able to use them to heat up my hands, arms, and feet (don’t ask about the feet; my plan failed). I also tried to–subtly–steal body heat from those around me by scooting closer and closer.

Actually, the chilly weather became a bit of a joke amongst our group. As the hours wore on, we realized the line wasn’t moving. It was just condensing from all the people huddling together.

Anyway, being cold was by far the toughest part of the experience for me. Sure, I was hungry. And, yeah, I had to use the bathroom. And, duh, my feet, back, and head hurt. But it was the cold that nearly did me in.

Thank God for the amazing people keeping me company in line. If it hadn’t been for their entertaining conversation, relatable sense of humor, and (semi) fanatical enthusiasm, I would’ve given up on the five hour journey to the bookstore’s entrance.

10351912_334456836746871_7954107548591425517_nYes, you read that correctly. Five hours! And it took another hour of windy-weaving through the bookstore to reach Neil Gaiman.

As we drew closer and closer to the famous author, my nerves got worse and worse. I had no idea what I wanted to say when I handed him my book: “You’re an inspiration.” Or, “Thank you for all your advice to aspiring authors.” Or, “I love your work!” Or…?

Everything I thought of sounded dumb and cliche. And the closer we got to Gaiman, the more I panicked.

Finally, I decided to mimic those in front of me with a short and sweet, “Thank you.” Yeah, not exactly the most eloquent or memorable thing to say, but at least I wouldn’t embarrass myself with an epic fangirl moment: I’m, like, your biggest fan, like, EVER! That would’ve been mortifying. And, also, untrue. Yes, I’m a Gaiman fan, but no, I’m not the biggest one. I’m pretty sure that lofty title goes to a guy in our group. After he got his book signed, he looked ready to pass out.

As for me, well. I honestly can’t even tell you what happened when it was my turn to meet Neil Gaiman. I vaguely remember leaning in for a picture, and I think I stuttered through a pathetic “Thank you”, but other than that, I have no idea. I likely looked like an overwhelmed, OMG!, dazed moron.

Once I had my book signed, I staggered over to the exit to wait for my friend and the rest of our group. I’m not sure if it was exhilaration, exhaustion, or a combo of the two, but I had the worst urge to giggle. I couldn’t believe I’d just met Neil Gaiman!

I opened my book and admired his signature.

10390100_334456853413536_4687527123228986405_nOnce everyone had their books signed, we left the bookstore. By then, it was almost 10 pm. Sheesh!

After a failed trip to Starbucks (grrr, so annoyed they’d already closed for the night!), and a farewell to our buddies from the line, my friend and I returned to his car and made the trip home.

Later, as I collapsed in bed, I laughed and thought, “Did that really just happen?” Of all the ways for that day to go, I hadn’t expected it to go that way. But, you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing…Well, maybe I would’ve accepted my friend’s jacket, lol. But, besides that and the discomfort of standing in line for over six hours, I enjoyed every second of the Neil Gaiman book signing.

February 6th, 2015 will definitely go down as one of the funnest, craziest, and most adventurous days of my life. Thank you to those who stood in line with me and kept me distracted and motivated. And thank you to Neil Gaiman for being such a creative, inspiring, and patient author. I don’t know how you signed that many books without your hand falling off! Truly amazing.

If you’d like to read more about Neil Gaiman and his work, click here!

Neil Gaiman from Stardust QUOTES You have to believe-1

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Jen’s Top 10 Favorite Books of 2014

Although I’ve cut way back on the book review side of my blog, I still like to spotlight books every now and then. And today, I’d like to spotlight my top 10 favorites from 2014. As you’ll see below, I read and enjoyed a wide variety of books last year: Light and heavy. Adult fiction and YA. Historical fiction, drama, sci-fi, contemporary romance, paranormal…I was all over the map! So, check them out. Maybe you’ll find a few that pique your interest?

Jen’s Top 10 Favorite Books of 2014

#1: Cress by Marissa Meyer

13206828I read Cress in early 2014, and it stuck with me the whole year. Like its predecessors in the Lunar Chronicles series, Cress was fun, witty, adventurous, and downright entertaining. Marissa Meyer has definitely proven to me old tales can be remade in exciting and creative ways. I can’t wait for Winter, the final book in this amazing series, to be released later this year!

To read my full review and more about Cress, click here!

#2: The Martian by Andy Weir

18007564I just finished The Martian during the holidays and…wow. Just wow! Think the movie Cast Away, but on Mars. Seriously, it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before. Gripping, intelligent, funny. I might’ve even shed a tear at the end.

The second I finished The Martian, I said, “Well, that has Hollywood written all over it.” And, guess what? The film is set to be released in November 2015. Ha! So don’t wait. Go read it before you see the movie…And then thank me for recommending it to you. 😉

To read more about The Martian, click here!

#3: Winter of the World by Ken Follett

12959233You know what amazes me about Ken Follett? He can write a 1,000 page story that flies by like a 400 page one. What amazes me more? He can write a 1,000 page historical fiction that doesn’t bore me to tears! Just like its predecessor, Fall of Giants, Winter of the World ensnared me from the start and has everything you want in a story: likable characters, rich settings, suspenseful plots, and so much more.

Trust me, don’t let the daunting size of this book stop you from reading it. It’s too good to pass up!

  To read more about Winter of the World, click here!

#4: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

15745753So, I read three Rainbow Rowell books in 2014, and I must admit, I wanted to put all of them on this list. But, I resisted the temptation and only put two (sorry Landline).

I’m sure most of you have already heard a lot of buzz about Eleanor & Park, and I’m sure many of you have already read it (and if you haven’t, you should.) It’s an addictive tale that takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions: Anger. Humor. Fear. Love. I’ve never read a contemporary romance quite like this one. You go from smirking at Eleanor and Park’s resentful start, to grinning at their magical connection, to holding your breath at their uncertain future.

In a nutshell, it’s awesome. So go read it!

To read my full review and more about Eleanor & Park, click here!

#5: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

16131484You know, there has been some debate about this sequel to The 5th Wave. Some have liked it. Some have not. Personally, I did. No, it wasn’t as great as The 5th Wave, and yes, it did feel like a middle book in a series (you know, the wobbly bridge that connects the 1st and 3rd book). But, whatever. I still enjoyed it and I’d still recommend it to others.

And, hey, here’s another book that will likely be adapted to screen someday since they’re already filming the first in the series. So, go read it before you head to the theater!

To read more about The Infinite Seaclick here!

#6: The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

10194157After seeing this book cover all over the place for a couple of years, I finally decided to place a hold on it at the library…and then I proceeded to devour it within two days…and then I proceeded to devour its sequels within a week. Yeah, The Grisha series is ahh-ddicting! Magical, mysterious, scary, romantic, all three books (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising) have the perfect elements to make a perfectly entertaining story.

So, if you’re looking for a quick, fun, adventurous read, here you go!

To read more about The Grisha seriesclick here!

#7: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

13618440Considering Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favorite books of all time, I placed its final segment, Dreams of Gods & Monsters, at the top of my must-read list for 2014. I can’t even explain how excited I was to get my hands on it. Once I did, I was satisfied with it. I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite in the series, but it wrapped things up nicely, answered all my questions, and made me both happy and sad. It’s always bittersweet to finish a wonderful series, you know?

Trust me, this is a must-read!

To read more about Dreams of Gods and Monsters, click here!

#8: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

8909152Annnd here’s the second Rainbow Rowell book on my list. Thinking about it, I should’ve listed this above Eleanor & Park because, honestly, I enjoyed it more. It’s not as intense and it’s just a tad more addictive. Plus, I totally fell in love with Lincoln. He’s one of my biggest book crushes ever.

*cue googly eyed expression*

…Hmmm…

Okay, I’m gonna keep daydreaming about Lincoln while you go read Attachments. I promise, it’s awesome!

To read my full review and more about Attachments, click here.

#9: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

8755785This was another highly anticipated book for me in 2014. And–unlike some of the other books I had looked forward to reading–City of Heavenly Fire lived up to my expectations. It also polished off The Mortal Instruments series in a satisfying way. As usual, Cassandra Clare wove a wonderful tale of adventure, wit, and love. And, of course, there were plenty of twists and turns, “Oohs” and “Ahhs”, and even a few “Noooooo…!” moments.

If you haven’t had a chance to get into this series, and you enjoy paranormal stories with a dash of humor and lots of action, then I highly recommend it!

To read more about City of Heavenly Fireclick here!

#10: Vampire Academy series Richelle Mead

18660669Oh, yes. I did it. I put the Vampire Academy series on the list. Go ahead and laugh, mutter “Huh?”, and poke fun at me all you want. But, you shouldn’t judge me until you read these books. Talk about addicting! I ended up reading all six of them in just over a month.

And, fine, these are not the most serious, challenging, or life altering books out there. But you know what? Sometimes, light and easy books are the best. And these are some of the best I’ve read in a long time. So check them out!

To read more about Vampire Academy, click here!

Overall, I read some great books in 2014 (and, okay, some not so great books, but we won’t talk about those). I can’t wait to read all the adventures awaiting me in 2015! I’ve already gotten off to a great start with Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

If you’d like to check out more of my book reviews, click here!

Book of the Month – The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Yet again, one of my favorite young adult books is being brought to life on the big screen. This month, it’s The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

6186357Synopsis

“‘If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.’
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.”

Jen’s Review

I read The Maze Runner forever ago, but even now, years later, I still remember how exciting, adventurous, and suspenseful it was. I also remember how I never stopped asking myself, “What the heck is going to happen next?”.

In a way, The Maze Runner reminds me of Lord of the Flies, except it has a maze, a girl, and oozing, creeping creatures that attack in the night! Oh, and there’s a tiny world-wide plague that gives people zombie-like symptoms, which makes things even more tense and crazy.

I will warn you: if you decide to read The Maze Runner, then you should prepare yourself to read its sequels, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. There are way too many unsolved mysteries at the end of book one to feel fully satisfied. But, that’s okay. As a whole (yes, I’ll admit, there are some ups and downs to all three books), this is an entertaining series that’s full of action and intrigue. And, in my opinion, they’re totally worth reading.

Mazerunner_minhoquoteSo what are you waiting for? Run out and read The Maze Runner before the movie hits theaters on September 19th!

Jen’s Rating 

5 Star

And for those of you who’d rather “see” the synopsis, here’s the trailer for The Maze Runner. Prepare to hold your breath for the next two minutes!

…Just remember: Read the book BEFORE you see the movie!

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Book Review: Champion by Marie Lu

14290364Champion by Marie Lu

Synopsis

“The explosive finale to Marie Lu’s New York Times bestselling LEGEND trilogy—perfect for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT!
He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?
June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.”

Jen’s Review

**Spoiler-free**

So last week I finished the third and final book in the Divergent series (Allegiant). After its bittersweet ending, I was terrified to read the third and final book in Marie Lu’s Legend series, Champion. Like DivergentLegend has been rife with grim drama, nail-biting action and heartbreaking tragedies. But, unlike DivergentLegend has had two protagonists that I really cared about–Day and June. I couldn’t bear the thought of these likeable, cheer-worthy characters meeting a similar ending as Tris and Four. I just couldn’t.

But, I went ahead and read it anyways.

And, without giving anything away, here’s what I thought:

As I’ve mentioned before, I feel many series suffer from the “Woo!-Boo! Syndrome”. Woo! for book one, Boo! for book two, and Woo!-Boo! for book three. Great, bad, great and bad. Champion was mostly Woo! Day and June were as likeable as ever, the plot answered all of my questions, and the grim yet optimistic tone matched that of its predecessors. Champion was entertaining, endearing and filled with plenty of oh-god-oh-god-oh-god moments. And Day’s headaches could literally be felt. During his painful episodes, I’d have to stop and rub my own head, scared I too had a tumor about to blow. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a fitting finale to an outstanding series. I highly, highly recommend it to one and all!

Now, as for the ending, the one I feared would be wrought with tragedy and noooooo!…Well, you’ll just have to read Champion to find out. I’m not telling! 😉

“Sometimes, the sun sets earlier. Days don’t last forever, you know. But I’ll fight as hard as I can. I can promise you that.”

Jen’s Rating

4 Star

Read more about Champion here!