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Book Expo America Book Con 2014

On Thursday May 30 – Saturday May 31st, Book Expo and Book Con took place at the Jacob Javits Center. Book Expo America (BEA) is the trade show part of the show, while Book Con is more open for consumers. From Thursday to Friday it was strictly trade show, but Saturday was open to public. While it was open on Saturday to the public it was still separated on the show floor. Basically parts of the con were kept as BEA, while the rest of the it was Book Con. So if you weren't press, an author, publisher, etc then you were not going into the BEA section. I was lucky enough to get press, so it was weird and kind of cool at the same time because of the fact that in the BEA section it wasn't as crowded, you could actually stroll through that section without being shoulder to shoulder with everyone.

Thursday of BEA was the best day to go meet and talk to a lot of the authors and of course get books. It was surprising to see what books were published by which companies, just because of the great variety each company had. It was incredible to see which companies were into publishing certain types of books as well. If you were an author looking to get your work published with a company, there was definitely a company there that would fit exactly what you are shopping around. And if you were more into self publishing, then they had plenty of resources for you as well. Bibliophiles and authors would have found this expo heavenly. That’s the beauty of Expos such as the BEA, it allows you make those connections direct connections with authors and publishers and talk to them about the industry. As well as ask any questions you may have about publishing or the industry, seeing which publishers would be into publishing your story/idea, and which kind of stories are gaining popularity and which ones are starting to gain popularity. The enormity of the booths a lot of the publishers had were just impressive. It gave you an idea great idea of variety of books that are published by these different publishers. Publishers that you thought only published children’s books, were also big into publishing young adult fantasy and crime thrillers as well.

I didn't keep a tight schedule in terms of interviews. I just set up a few interviews and just enjoyed the con itself. I do regret not going Friday to meet Stan Lee, because once Saturday hit it was insanity. For some odd reason they started the lines for the E hall panels out by the escalator. It wasn't just the line for Stan Lee, it was the line for any panel you wanted to go see in that particular hall. So you had no idea how long the line for the panel you wanted to go see was. And that line stretched out from the escalator almost to the other side of the convention. The line for the Amy Poehler & Martin Short panel, had no real organization. It started out as a cluster of people, and then at the last minute of the panel actually starting, everyone was told to line up. So even if you got there early you may not have been able to get to the front of that line. So it was like going to a panel at NY Comic Con.

Some of the Authors and editors I was able to talk to were: author/writer/blogger/geek Eric Smith who was signing his latest book “The Geek‘s Guide to Dating“, author Stephanie Bond who I talked to about her latest book “Two Guys Detective Agency”, author Nathan Whitaker who was promoting his latest book “Snap Decision”, and editor JR Han who was promoting his companies latest release of classic Chinese legends in graphic novel form. All were great to talk to; getting to hear how they started writing, what research or background they used when writing their perspective books, and hearing how much passion and joy they have in their projects. It was a honor to meet these great individuals read of course read their work.

Stephanie Bond (Author)

Myself and JR Han (Publisher)

Myself  & Nathan Whitaker(Author/Biographer) 

Eric Smith at his signing

After leaving BEA/Book Con I left with a lot of reading material that will keep me engrossed for a long while along with my huge stack of graphic novels I need to catch up with as well. As I said if you are someone who loves books, wants to publish or get published this was the convention for you. Everyone there was kind, courteous and if you didn’t have to wait on a long line you had a good time. Big thank you to Becki Ortiz for doing the filming for my interviews and taking some of the photos of the authors and editors I met with that day. Don't know what I would have done without her.

The Geek's Guide to Dating: Book Review

The Geek's Guide to Dating
by: Eric Smith
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: December 3rd, 2013

Eric Smith's The Geek's Guide to Dating isn't a typical or stereotypical dating book guide. This is the strategy guide to dating that geeks or non geeks alike can use. The book itself is as detailed as a World of Warcraft game, a symphony orchestral piece of music, or any sports playbook. Each chapter is goes into each phase of dating; starting with yourself, assessing your strengths and weaknesses,to the actual date itself. It even includes the break up that may/may not occur. Eric Smith does it in one of the smartest ways imaginable treating it like an old school game of D&D combined with the modern MMORPG. The use of modern geek terms, and quotes or events from movies, games, and comic books flows so well within the book that even non-geeks who may not get the significance of the references would still be able to follow and understand what he is saying in the guide. 

While it is a male targeted book, a lot of what is written in the can be and does apply to both genders. While he may refer to the person reading the book as “He”, the advice given is Universal. Advice such as choosing your wingman/woman. He gives you attributes that will help in choosing such a person that will work to your advantage and what will hurt you overall. Good Attributes: In a relationship, More outgoing, and Has your back at all times. Bad Attributes: Doesn't know that he/she is the wingman, Is a member of the opposite sex. 

One aspect of dating that I'm glad he talks about that a lot of people need to stop using as a negative term is “The Friendzone”. My own pet peeve with that is that there is nothing wrong with The Friendzone. Most people who are in relationships are the best of friends and some relationships started out as friendships. I strongly believe that if you can't be friends with the person you are pursuing, meaning that you couldn't see yourself just hanging with them having fun on a regular, then how is it you already see yourself in a relationship with this person. Eric goes into it saying that being friendzoned, puts you in a special place in this person's life as someone they trust. It's also a better starting point for you to get to know that person a lot better. 

Another aspect he covers is fashion and while he gives some great tips for what to wear on your first and second dates, he gives some great advice on emulating fashion based on iconic Scifi heroes. Heroes such as the 9th & 10th Doctors (Doctor Who), Han Solo (Star Wars), and even the original Captain James T Kirk. From the top down to the shoes, he gives great ideas on how to emulate those iconic costumes that won't make you stand out like a cosplayer at a dental convention. 

I found the book to be a fantastic guide for anyone starting to date, already in a relationship, or needs better advice after a bad break up. Or for that friend that just doesn't get it, and needs something to give them that epiphany of what they are doing wrong. A lot of this book is common sense, in the way that if are someone who has been striking out you'll quickly pick on why and if your current relationship is going well you'll see why as well and even pick up a few tips to keep it going that way. The 8 bit art woven in the pages of the guide are well done and it really adds to the overall theme of the book. It's a great and fun read. Worth picking up just for the geeky references alone. 

Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: Book Reveiw

Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls made a nation cool
Revised Edition with Flaps
By Brian Ashcraft with Shoko Ueda
Tuttle Publishing
Paperback: 208 Pages 
Release Date: May 13, 2014

"For years, Japanese schoolgirls have appeared in hugely-popular anime and manga series such as Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Blood: The Last Vampire. These girls are literally showing up everywhere—in movies, magazines, video games, advertising, and music. WIRED Magazine has kept an eye on the trends emerging from these stylish teens, following kick-ass schoolgirl characters in video games like Street Fighter and assassin schoolgirls in movies like Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. By talking to Japanese women, including former and current J-Pop idols, well-known actresses, models, writers, and artists—along with famous Japanese film directors, historians and marketers—authors Brian Ashcraft and Shoko Ueda (who have both contributed to WIRED's "Japanese Schoolgirl Watch" columns) reveal the true story behind Japan's schoolgirl obsessions."

In Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential, Brian Ashcraft and Shoko Ueda explore one of the biggest and most recognizable symbols of Japan, the Japanese school girl. The Japanese school girl represented a lot of things to people in Japan. For many it was a reminder of their own youths, for others it was who they are and who they will be. Japanese school girls represented the future of Japan. These young ladies would become future Doctors, Lawyers, or even Artists. But this book isn't about what these young ladies will become; it’s about how these young girls influenced an entire culture throughout the years and even now. Brian Ashcraft and Shoko Ueda delve deep into the influences of the Japanese school girl. They go in on how the uniform was adopted and eventually made into a Japanese staple. From the cultural to the pop culture aspects of Japan, Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential puts the not only the school girl, but the uniform itself as an iconic status.

In each chapter of the book Ascraft gives readers an in depth look of each aspect of the influences that Japanese school girls have in Japanese society and the eventually the world. With every chapter acting like sections of life, he gives you an in-depth history of every aspect. So not only do you get to know how these school girls influenced the mainstream, but you get an understanding of the culture and some of its Western influences. Fashion was one of the biggest industries to be influenced by Japanese school girls. The magazine EGG in the early 90’s did do your typical fashions like you would find in vogue, but once they started shifting their gears towards the younger generation it was total boom in sales. Not only were school girls their main focus, but they were their cover models, their journalists, and even their fashionistas. School girls ran the industry because they weren't as much influenced so much by what was out there. Their style came from the fact that they were stuck in a uniform for most of the day, so they came up with more inventive ways to be cool in/out of school. They were the trend setter of the young, so a lot of people took notice. School uniforms became so fashionable that there are stores that sell only uniforms, but of course designed more for fashion and by no means a substitute uniform for school.  When it came to technology school girls changed the game heavily. According to Ascraft, when pagers became the tool of the business man, school girls saw them as another way to communicate with friends in secret because they didn't have the privacy they wanted at home. They developed their own numerical code, and when pagers gave the ability to text actual words, they fully took advantage of that as well. If not for school girls using pagers the way they did, they would have stayed in the business market as opposed to the mass consumer market. And when cell phones came about, if your phone had the ability to text and send emails you were among the top sellers. Like with every teenager, if you give them the ability to communicate without having to be in the same room as the person, they will in sense abuse that ability heavily.

Brain Ashcraft really gives you a great book on culture and influence in Japan’s society that spans decades. In certain chapters at first he goes into the historical significance of that aspect in Japanese society, and then he’ll bring in the influences that these girls and their uniforms had on it. So it’s a like a history book that focuses on thing, but gives you so much more. His detailed information and storytelling really help to understand how iconic the Japanese school girl is. The illustrations, photos, and his one page comic book-esque interviews with actual school girls at the end of every chapter help pull the insights of this book together. The actual pages mimic note book pages, pictures made to look like cutouts, with stickers all around. It feels like in a sense that, even though they are young, young women run Japan. It’s almost a testament to what the school uniforms represent, which is that long road ahead to graduation that is filled with big dreams and aspirations. That these young ladies can do just about anything and the whole world caters to their every wants and desires.

Book Review: Asa Akira Insatiable: Porn - A Love Story


If you are reading this book hoping to find a how-to guide for breaking into porn and being a great porn star then you should look elsewhere. Asa Akira: Insatiable Porn - A Love Story is one of the most honest and open hearted memoirs you will ever read. It is better than sitting down with Asa herself and hearing the stories of her life. It’s like almost being a witness everything she has done in her life, from doing almost every kind of drug as a teen to finally finding her one true love. Asa does not hold back in this book, which is what makes it such a great read. From start to finish she takes you through every up and down in her life, and has no regrets or remorse in sharing with herself with us. This book is more of an inspiration about life, about not being afraid to do something, not sitting on your ass at home and wishing you did. From the start Asa knew she wanted to be in porn, and despite what friends may have told her, what fears may have come up when one her way to her first porn shoot, she kept on going forward and didn't stop until every man and woman was getting off to her. And even then she kept going on to direct her own movies and has everyone get off on what her vision of sex on film was. This book is a testament to living life your way, with cute haikus thrown in-between.

When she gets into the highs lows of her life, she really goes into it. When she talks about the copious amounts of drugs she used as a teen and even while she was well into her porn career. Some of those stories were pretty fun and cool stories, while others like the time she smoked crack for the first time, were big eye openers. In all those drug related stories, it wasn't about escaping or trying to forget some horrible tragedy, it was just about a young lady having a good time. In Ch.10 when she met Maury, getting him high not only saved his marriage, but helped him in general. You always hear from pot smokers, that if the world smoked weed it would be a better place. And in Maury’s case his world became a whole lot better. One of my favorite chapters in the book is the one about Florida. Just the way she describes it is exactly how a person from NY would describe it. While I do have family and friends down there and like to visit for vacation purposes, it’s really not the greatest place on earth to live. Describing how white trash it can be, when a Mother/Daughter duo get into porn together or a man goes on a shooting rampage because he can’t take a doggie bag home from an all you can eat buffet. Another one of my favorite chapters is when she talks about how she tried to control herself during a blow-bang and was only going to have sex with 3 guys, but a magical 4th guy manage to get him some without her knowing. Because those kind of scenes are what really get her going it was like she was on an ecstasy high that day and the fact that a 4th guy managed to get in was funny as hell.

In the book she also writes 3 letters: A letter to her Mom, A break-up letter with Gonzo, and A letter to a child she may or may not have. I felt these letters were the deepest parts of the book, because it felt like she was exposing herself even more to us. In the letter to her mom, she tells her mother about how everything went on her first day, the people she met, what got to do, etc. It was filled with the hopes of a young lady trying to make it big in the industry. The break up letter was probably the most positive break up letters I have read. If you ever gotten a break up letter, you would hope you got a letter like that. In it she talks about how much she loved Gonzo, but was moving on to do features, and while Gonzo will always be her first love this is a new chapter in her life and she hope that Gonzo will be happy for her. Being able to take that next step in a career is always the hardest step to take and in that letter she shows how nervous and excited she is to take that next step in her career. And in the letter to her future child she may or may not have, I feel is Asa really wearing her heart on her sleeve. She tells her future kid how she met her father, and how much she loved him. Telling her kid that she hopes she made her happy growing up and that if she hurt them that she still and always will love them. After reading that letter you’ll definitely want to go out and hug your own children or even your parents.

This book is full of moments that will have you shed a tear, and have you laughing out loud. Worth reading more than once and front to back, Asa Akira’s Insatiable is an amazing read. If you ever wanted to know more about someone in the most honest way this is the book to get.