Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back from our hiatus!

Last year I went to a book signing in London to meet Sarah J Maas on her A Court of Thorns and Roses book tour here in the UK. My post about it is here. I was lucky enough to go again this year for her Empire of Storms tour and I have returned to tell you all about it. I have a lot to say about it and a few comparisons because this year was a lot stricter and had many different rules. As in, last year was miles better.

I took more pictures this year so enjoy the goodness! Due to nerves of being near Queen Maas, my pictures aren't the best because *shaking* and also because I'm a terrible photographer. No matter how many times I tell people that I love photography, I'm still not good at it. And the lighting was shit, as is my phone camera.

So, I'm on my way to London. As I've been super busy lately and have been in a reading slump, I've yet to finish Empire of Storms. As they will likely be talking about it, I tried to read as much as I could on the train to avoid too many spoilers. Besides, train reading is the best kind of reading. 

S/N: why are train fares so darn expensive? 

I manage to find my way around London to Leicester Square where the event is being held, and I'm a tad early so I end up browsing the same shop I did last time I met Sarah. Foyles. I do love Foyles, and if you're a book lover who happens to end up in London, do go there. They have everything! They even have hardbacks which I find hard to get where I live. After browsing for ages and having a quick cup of tea in the cafe (which was so crowded that I had to sit at a table with 3 other strangers), I purchased Vicious by V.E. Schwab, a book I've been meaning to read for a while now and heard nothing but good things about it. (Thanks for recommending, co-blogger!)

On my way to Foyles, I turned a corner and I saw this. The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child theatre! I didn't expect to see that there, and it's funny that it's on Shaftsbury Avenue somewhere because it's a street mentioned in the Deathly Hallows part 1 movie. (Changed from Tottenham Court Road.)

I didn't see people going in or out but there was a lot of people taking pictures of it. I don't think I'll go see it until it's a lot cheaper because, if you saw our review of the book, we didn't like the story or characterisation. 
Review is here if you're interested.

And then I have a queue to join to get into the theatre. Of course there's a lot of fangirls and people taking pictures for Instagram and Snachat, so I knew it was the right line! I love that a lot of people had ACOTAR and ToG bags, I also did so it's nice to be among fans. It's also located by Chinatown which is super cool and the food smell made me so hungry omg.

First of all, I have to say that the event I went to last year was a lot better. I just feel like this one had way too many restrictions and considering the amount of time, money and effort it took to get there, I felt like it wasn't entirely worth it. We were ushered in to take a seat in a theatre, which was allocated so that's pretty good.  Last year we were offered a refreshment for free, I had wine, but nothing this year. We had to pay for them at the bar.  I just spent 40 quid to get here by train so I don't have any money to spare. You can also purchase her books at the theatre which is good, and if you pay extra for your ticket, they give you one. I already have her books so I didn't need to do this.

Although the Q&A started a bit late, Sarah finally came on stage and the lights went out. I was actually going to take notes but I couldn't see anything so I don't have anything written down about what was said. 

Then, sadly, the same questions are always asked. Sarah said pretty much the same things that was said last year and as a SJM fan, I already knew everything she said. But still, it's always good to be in the presence of Queen Maas! She was her usual happy and hilarious self, talking about her love for the world she's created and the hermit lifestyle she has by not showering for 5 days. Her husband, her dog and her publishing process being a part of the talk too, it was still fun to hear her talk about her life and how she came about to write both series. 

We only got 3 questions answered from the audience, which is A LOT less than last year too and they were kind of silly questions. One was about a map, one was about whether she'd had a dream about her characters, and one was about why Rowan was endgame and not Dorian. Le sigh....I was hoping some people would ask some better questions than that. 

There were some loud people in there which is always funny, getting very involved. I do recall a lot of Chaol and Dorian lovers out there so when they were mentioned, everyone lost their shit. So, as a Rowan fangirl, when she mentioned him, it was quiet and I was like:

Oh well, they're missing out. Anyway, after about 50 minutes of chatting, it was time for the signing. Sarah was on stage at a table to sign everyone's books and we got 1 signed by her and the other was stamped by her husband. This is because she injured her hand and her doctor doesn't want her straining it so she can only do one per person. Understandable. I wish we could have gotten the others stamped too as I brought more than 2 books, but what can you do. Also, you weren't allowed to have a picture, which we got last time.

We went up row after row and I had to wait 45 minutes before my row was called up. I feel like, if we got a drink or at least got something like a photo, I wouldn't have minded waiting a bit longer. So watching all the other people going up, being confident, knowing exactly what to say, I was freaking the hell out. I'm so starstruck with authors, more than I am with celebrities, so I was literally shaking.  I met Brad Pitt at the Toronto International Film Festival about 3 years a go and I wasn't nervous at all. Yesterday? Nervous wreck.

I hate that we had to go up on the stage to meet her too, I don't like being in front of lots of people, and it frightened me more than meeting Sarah. The people waiting to go next were watching from their sears and made me so self-conscious, our arses were basically on show. Thanks, Leicester Square Theatre. 

Her husband seemed to be enjoying the stamping, which I thought was so adorable. He chatted to fans too and was really happy about being there, which was lovely! There was also a girl dressed up as Celaena and I got Sarah's reaction to seeing her. [pictured left; tad blurry] It must be so surreal to see someone dressed up as a character you've created! She's very brave, and that's awesome that she dressed up. You go girl! I think there was 2 girls dressed up but I didn't get a photo of her, but they looked brilliant. 

And now, it's our turn. Our row is to go up next so we get our names written down on a post-it note to put in the book. Then it sets in - I'm next and I'm going to embarrass myself. I had no idea what to say but I queued patiently and felt like my heart was going to fly out of my arse.

I hate being on stage, as I said before, so I look down and see people peering up. I can see Sarah and I'm like 'omg omg what do I say, what do I do help me'. (this was also me when I met Colleen Hoover like 3/4 years a go) Everyone around me were so confident and chatting to her like they're mates. How do they do this. The girl in front of me had a tattoo and showed Sarah, who was very impressed, so that left me with literally nothing as cool as that to show or say to her.

The lady in the grey dress was there to arrange the books and let you know you're next (and to pretty much be like 'get a move on, go, no pictures'). At Waterstones last year, they took photo's for you with Sarah, this year - nothing. It takes a second :( my picture last year was horrific, I looked like a real muppet so I wanted to take a better one. No luck.

And here is Queen Sarah and her husband! This is the part when I was like 'don't shit yourself, you have about 100 people watching you from behind and Sarah in front of you. Be cool. BE COOL'

She was super nice and said 'Hey Natalie, how are you?' and I was like 'Good thanks, how are you?'. I didn't know what to say, and my co-blogger mentioned something about another reader asking her what Amren was in ACOMAF. Apparently, Sarah told the reader. You know what I did? I also asked. I said 'so I'm dying to know what Amren is!' and she was like 'you'll find out in book 3' WHY DID I ASK THIS. I feel kind of stupid, but it was the first thing that came out of my mouth. Of course she isn't going to tell me, what was I thinking. I was like 'oooooh no haha okay, THANKS ANYWAY BYE' *scuttles off stage* *facepalm* 

Imagine having the power of extra knowledge that nobody else knows, oh man.

She was probably like 'the fucking cheek of dat bitch' but it was worth a shot, am I right? But hey ho, I got to talk to her and she signed my book and greeted me. I was boiling hot on that stage, and I was going to have a heart attack so it's likely that I looked a state but she was very kind. I went to catch my train and I sat on the floor (there were no seats ofc) and thought of something to say to her. I was like 'ffs this would have been so much better' but maybe next time. Hopefully she'll do a signing next year and hopefully it's back at Waterstones. 

Oh yeah, there was a man on the side of the stage who was telling people to get off the stage so they couldn't take pictures. SATAN. 

This is my signed copy of A Court of Mist and Fury! I wanted this one signed more than Empire of Storms because it's my favourite Sarah J Maas book so YES. I'm so glad I got this one signed and it's personalised to meeeeee. I also might have to keep the post-it note that has my name on it, I also kept the one from my Colleen Hoover signing. 

And then we have the Empire of Storms stamped by her husband. I think this is lovely, it's gold and it says 'Empire of Storms Tour 2016' which is a nice little memory. The swords on there are pretty cool too, I think the stamp thing is a great idea!

Then we have the purchased copy of Vicious from Foyles. I'm kind of sad and keep bags, especially when they're from bookshops, so this is being added to the huge mound I have in a cupboard in the kitchen. So happy I have another book to my collection :)

So there you have it! As I said, last year was a lot better, more casual and I could actually SEE Sarah and my surroundings. Just super happy I got to meet her again, it's always a pleasure. 

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