I was happy to see some familiar faces, to pick up some ARCs with familiar names on the covers, and to talk with the gracious authors and illustrators of works I've admired and enjoyed. But it was also a chance to explore the new, to get a better sense of a semi-familiar publisher or discover a debut or new-to-me author, to chat with a stranger and find out that we have similar views on what a reviewer's job is or what makes a book valuable.
Beyond the chance encounters, there was the more organized chaos of the sessions. A panel on YA editors' favorite new releases gave a good sense of what's about to be out there, and I was happy to see that even if trends are definitely present (news flash: fantasy is popular lately), editors are most excited about the authors who do something new with it. A steampunk panel both clarified and raised more questions about what this genre/style/set of elements is and why it attracts us now. The Cake Boss (yeah, the sessions were varied) talked about how important food is to family and basically revealed that he's a pastry-makin' sweetheart.
Finally, a stage full of hilarious and smart guys (I believe there was a Sciezska in there? And a Kinney?) introduced Guys Read: Funny Business, making us crack up while they showed us their passion for reaching out to an often reluctant reading demographic in a way that respects that demographic. Highlight.
Back in Boston now. Ready to read/sell/review/write some books!