Book Beat at YALLWest! All the crazy fun with Becky Albertalli, Tomi Adeyemi, Jim Lee and more!

Anyone else still recovering from all the crazy fun at YALLWest this past weekend? Books, authors and friends made for a packed weekend at the annual book festival in Santa Monica. Here’s how my weekend went down!

The festivities begin with Fierce Friday where a bunch of authors kick off the weekend with signings. Like last year, it’s an orderly process: fans check in and then select two wristbands to guarantee you meet at least one author each hour.

Before the signings begin, teens who will be 18 by November could also register to vote. (I love this new addition programming!)

At 6 PM, the authors came out to kick off the event. Dhonielle Clayton rallied the fans on behalf of the authors.

Then the signings began! Of course all the authors I wanted to meet were signing at the same time, but, with the help of friends, I managed to get all my books signed.

Tomi Adeyemi of the fantastic Children of Blood and Bone was one of the authors I really wanted to meet. One of the can’t-miss books of the year, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this fantastic fantasy. Not only is Tomi talented, but she’s really friendly and a ball of energy (hence the soft focus on this photo!)

I also met Jen Wang, the author/illustrator of the adorable Prince and the Dressmaker. This graphic novel is a sweet and heart-warming romance between a girl and a boy and they just happen to be a dressmaker and a prince who likes to wear dresses.

I forgot to get photos, but Dhonielle Clayton signed The Belles (fantasy set in New Orleans) for me and I had to get Maurene Good to sign The Way You Make Me Feel which is another fun rom com.

With signed books in hand, my Fierce Friday was done and it was off to bed to rest up for a full day of YALLWest!

Saturday started way too early (of course!) and was a mad dash from event to event. I got most of my books signed on Friday so I just did a few signings on Saturday. One was with Kiersten White whose Bright We Burn finishes up her current series. Her next books are The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel.

I met Emily X.R. Pan who wrote the gorgeous The Astonishing Color of After. That’s one of my favorites this year so grab a copy if you want a beautiful (and not dreary) story about grief, moving on and family.

Hi De Ho Comics made their first appearance and they came to play with legend Jim Lee on hand to sign and do a few quick sketches.

I was lucky enough to snag tickets to a couple of events including Penguin Teen trivia. In teams of 7 to 9, readers would partner with an author and attempt to answer 30 trivia questions. I emphasize attempt since These were not easy since they were book-specific questions and not all of us had read everything. My group included Richelle Mead so I know we got at least one question right!

Get Underlined had their own Prom complete with chaperones (aka authors) and delicious ice cream which hit the spot on this sunny, sunny day!

I ran into the talented, smart and unfairly photogenic Nic Stone of the terrific Dear Martin. Her next book, Odd One Out, is out in October. (More on this in my upcoming book haul post)

A good chunk of my day was also waiting for some of the most coveted book drops. This is always a bit of hit and miss and this year was particularly chaotic.

Example: One publisher had back to back book drops and lines formed early for these in-demand titles. Instead of working with the lines the fans created, they decided to had out tickets to a mob. People who waited over an hour in line got nothing and a bunch of walk-ups snagged the books. Whoops!

Regardless, I got a bunch of books I’m excited about so more on that later!

My day ended with the Smackdown event where the authors get to be a bit silly. Some of the authors read excerpts of their early writings which shows they all….worked (hard!) to evolve their craft.

The highlight was Julie Buxbaum’s dramatic reading of a young Marie Lu’s love letter to cheese. Shout out to Chicago-area authors Gloria Chao (American Panda) and Samira Ahmed (Love Hate & Other Filters) who made their YALLWest debuts!

There were also several re-creations of movies with Libba Bray leading the T-Birds in “Summer Nights” from Grease!

Becky Albrertalli led the cast for a re-creation of the party scene from Love, Simon, the adaptation of her awesome Simon vs the Homospaiens Agenda.

Veronica Roth and Maurene Goo were Tris and Four from Divergent.

Then the authors gathered for one last bow/graduation. (This is the four edition of YALLWest, after all!)

And that wraps up YALLWest 2018! Fewer signings for me this year, lots of books (which I’ll talk about in my next post) and hanging out with friends and author friends.

Everyone left happy, tired and quit a few were sunburnt. (Wear sunscreen people!) I’ll follow up with my YALLWest book haul post which will preview some of the exciting titles coming out this year!

See you next year, YALLWest!

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