YALLWEST: A Glorious Southern California Weekend

Posted April 16, 2015 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Book and Author Events, Giveaways, Travel / 39 Comments


This past weekend I was ridiculously happy and fortunate to be able to attend California’s first ever YALLWEST, the West Coast companion event to the extremely popular YALLFest event every year in South Carolina. I found out about this festival a few months ago and IMMEDIATELY knew I was going, no matter what. I booked a hotel, asked Max if he’d like to come along (henceforth known on my blog as “The Bookish Boyfriend,” as he’s certainly earned the title after assisting me all weekend!) and my plan was set, come hell or high water.

After so many months of anticipation, the weekend finally arrived and the day before was spent packing a giant tub full of my books (to be signed, of course), loading up my car, and hitting the road well before sunrise. The 8+ hour drive wasn’t too bad (with a Chipotle stop for lunch, of course) and we checked into our hotel Friday afternoon not realizing that our room was a suite! It was the first sign that the weekend was going to be amazing. We went to dinner at one of my favorite SoCal based restaurant chains, Lemonade, and then headed to bed for what was going to be another early morning on Saturday, as I was determined to be one of the first ones in line.

The real reason I went to SoCal...besides YALLWEST.
The real reason I went to SoCal…besides YALLWEST.

Day 1

Saturday morning we awoke at 5:30am and left our hotel by 6:30am to make the 45 minute drive to Santa Monica. We arrived right around 7:30am to get in line for the festival opening at 9am. We were 7th in line and I had my cart full of books ready to be signed, which my lovely boyfriend faithfully lugged around all day.


When the doors opened around 9:20 it was MADNESS, with everyone flooding in (so much for the line) and rushing the tables, trying to figure out where to check in depending on what tickets they had purchased. After getting our tickets, food truck vouchers, and tote bags, we headed up the hill to immediately get in line for Marissa Meyer’s signing, which was my NUMBER ONE priority of the day! (I took a picture with her but the lighting was awful, so I’ll spare you). Marissa Meyer was literally the sweetest person, she asked about my blog, encouraged me to take goodies from her booth, and complimented the Boyfriend on his helpfulness as he got my copy of Fairest signed. I only regret not sharing with her my love of Sailor Moon!


IMG_5351_2After Marissa Meyer (who was amazing and started her signing early!) we jumped in line to have books signed by Stephanie Perkins and Ransom Riggs. I didn’t think I could meet anyone that day as nice as Marissa until I met Stephanie! She is such a doll and we chatted about our mutual love of San Francisco, and what a wonderful city it is (and how I wished more YA novels were published there!) I also got to meet up with Jackie from She Reads A Lot briefly and it was such a nice feeling to meet someone who I’d gotten to know through the book blogging community! We sadly didn’t get a chance to take a picture together, but I hope to see more of her at future events!

IMG_5360_2After our top priority morning signings the Boyfriend and I headed over to check out the Epic Reads tent, which was staffed by the NICEST people (seriously, everyone at YALLWEST was so enthusiastic and welcoming!) They were running timed giveaways and random giveaways where you could spin a giant wheel-of-fortune type contraption and whichever book it landed on you got to take home! (Most of them were arcs, many of them highly anticipated!) The ladies at the booth were so sweet and made the time to chat with the guests and even made a point to greet me by name when I saw them later on throughout the festival. I was so impressed by Epic Reads and HarperCollins by not only their professionalism but their enthusiasm toward their readers and how sincere it came across that they value their audience. I won a few books through the randomized giveaway and was lucky enough to receive an arc of Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway and meet her as well! (And she remembered me from Twitter! The YA community is such a neat place.) I also floated away in happiness when one of the lovely Epic Reads representatives handed me an arc copy of The Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot. The series has meant so much to me on my YA journey that receiving the latest installment early meant so much to me.

IMG_5354_2We saw two great panel discussions (although I do wish we had seen more!) Strong Female Characters…Ugh! was SO good and it was great to see how authors have dealt with stigmas of their work being too “girly” and trying to get YA to transcend gender boundaries, as well as talk about why female protagonists have to be “warrior” figures in order to be strong. We also had tickets to the afternoon Teanote with Veronica Roth and Marie Lu, a nice break from the sun and it was fun hearing them discuss their work (and teasers about their works in progress!) Veronica Roth was so funny and personable, I loved hearing her talk every chance I could. I haven’t read anything by Marie Lu yet but I really want to after hearing them speak!

After lunch at the Border Grill Food Truck (it was really, really delicious, and their cilantro garlic fries are my new favorite thing!) we headed to our afternoon signings, including Susan Ee!


Around 5pm we decided to head out before the Cupcake Hour and Smackdown because we were so, so tired. We headed to dinner and then Downtown Disney for a little shopping (and I may or may not have added to my Disney Alex and Ani collection…) Then we stopped at one of my favorite SoCal dessert places, Bruxie, for custard milkshakes.

Day 2

Sunday we arrived at the Santa Monica Library around 9:30am for the 11am festival opening and coffee hour. We were 5th in line, and the venue was beautiful and modern, although a lot smaller (a lot less people showed up on Day 2). During the Fierce Reads coffee hour (where guests can mingle with authors) I was able to pick up a few goodies and meet with Marissa Meyer again, and even got a picture with her!

IMG_5365I then proceeded to get in a 2.5 hour line for Veronica Roth, which was an emotional roller coaster as they weren’t sure she’d be signing again today after her 300+ line the day before, and the information kept changing. Luckily I was able to get 2 books signed by her, and while I waited the Boyfriend was able to get a signed arc of Extraordinary Means by Robin Schnieder (they bonded over their despair at missing the Game of Thrones season premiere that night). The next thing I know I see him across the way being interviewed by the Santa Monica news! They interviewed him about his experience at the festival and said it would be included in a 30 minute special they were doing…if anyone happens to see it, let me know, as we’re not local to the area and would love to find a way to watch it!

If you look closely you can see Veronica Roth!
If you look closely you can see Veronica Roth!

I also got books signed by Abigail Haas and Alyson Noel, waiting in much more reasonable lines as the day wore on and people started to head out. Abigail Haas was so much fun to talk to, and she wrote such great personalizations in my book! I also got to meet some other bloggers while standing in line on Sunday and had the opportunity to exchange business cards!


We headed out around 4pm on Sunday, tired and sun-weary from a lot of excitement and little sleep. We celebrated the end of our weekend with Sprinkles Ice Cream and headed out Monday morning.

Some of our YALLWEST haul!
Some of our YALLWEST haul!

Shout Out to The Bookish Boyfriend

The couple that reads YA together stays together.

I have to take a moment to give a HUGE thanks to Max for not only agreeing to go to YALLWEST with me, and not only being a good sport about it, but being completely and totally into it, from hauling around my books to chatting with other bloggers he went and telling them about my blog. He was so, so supportive and a great planner as well, having been to many cons and festivals while this was my first. I let him take over all of the planning and direction on Sunday and not only did we have a great time but an efficient time, meeting the authors we wanted, scoring the books we wanted, and still having a great time. Seriously, if you can find someone to go with you to YALLWEST or any other convention/book festival, take them up on the offer! It makes everything more fun, from the travel to the waiting in line, and it’s so helpful to have someone looking out for you and -let’s be honest- to help carry all those books!

Other Things Going On At YALLWEST

Even though I didn’t get to participate in everything going on since there was so much to do, here’s a quick look at some of the other happenings:

  • AM Keynote every morning after coffee hour hosted by famous authors
  • Panels every hour with author signings after
  • Photo Booths and Makeover Booths
  • Barnes & Nobles tent with a huge selection of YA titles for purchase
  • Sprinkles Cupcake hour hosted by authors w/ arcs and book signings
  • Trivia and Scrabble Games
  • DJ
  • Official YALLWEST merchandise for purchase


In order to celebrate going to the first ever YALLWEST, I’m hosting a giveaway of an arc of Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway and a few other YALLWEST goodies. (US only, must be 18 or older,ย  winner must respond by email within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected).

*It was mere coincidence, but I ended up with 2 copies of Emmy & Oliver. I received a signed copy after meeting Robin Benway herself, and then when the Boyfriend spun the Epic Reads Giveaway wheel the next day he ended up with a copy as well. Since we share books and don’t need two copies, I’m giving away our second arc to one lucky reader!

Click to enter the Emmy & Oliver ARC Giveaway!

I hope you enjoyed reading my YALLWEST recap! Look out for my YALLWEST tips and tricks posts coming next week!

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39 responses to “YALLWEST: A Glorious Southern California Weekend

  1. I am so jealous the book festival here is nowhere near big enough! The lemonade looks yummy though and I love frozen Custard! I am hoping to make more book festivals this year and upcoming next with hopefully more funds! =)

  2. Hey! Seems you had a great time. Of course you did! ๐Ÿ™‚
    The way you wrote out your entire experience, it felt really great reading it all the way through!
    Thanks for sharing with us the wonderful time you spent at YALLWEST. ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I’m so jealous! It looked like such a blast. I was so excited reading your post. Thanks for posting it. I felt like sort of went haha living vicariously through you. You’ve got yourself an awesome boyfriend haha!

  4. I saw some recap videos on youtube. It sounds liek some much fun. Honestly, I would’ve waited in line to meet the Booksplosion Youtubers ๐Ÿ˜€ Happy reading!

  5. I looks like you had a fantastic time! I’m so glad your first festival was so wonderful. Festivals and book events are my favorite. I love meeting bloggers and authors and just generally being surrounded by that kind of atmosphere. You had a great haul too! Thanks so much for the giveaway. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. This looks and sounds SO AWESOME. Great to hear you had such a positive experience at your first big bookish event. I’ve yet to attend one, let’s just say the amount of them over here in the UK is pretty miniscule. However last year they set up the UK’s first every YA convention that tags along with Comic Con, so I’m hoping I might be able to get to that, we’ll see!

    Also, I’m so impressed you managed to have actual conversations with the authors, the only author signing I went to I got totally speechless/mute!

    • Oh, I hope you get to go, I would love to see your post about that! Honestly, I loved the time I got to spend talking to authors but with so many of them I thought of things I would’ve loved to chat about only AFTER I met them…so I’ll have to remember them for next year, I suppose!

  7. SO JEALOUS AND SO HAPPY FOR YOU. This seems so awesome. Now I’m definitely thinking about going to YALLFEST. And of course I have to enter the Emmy & Oliver giveaway, because I borrowed my ARC and would love to have my own copy ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. It was great to meet you! I’m sorry we didnt get a chance to get together again or take a photo. It was hectic but totally fun! I already can’t wait for next year and I’m seriously thinking about going to Yallfest because RL STINE!

  9. It seems like you had a blast! I love reading recaps on this event because (other than the fact I very much plan to go next year) every recap is so different! I love the pics in your post as well!

    Also, you and your boyfriend are GOALS. ๐Ÿ˜‰ He seems so supportive of your book fetish and blogging! Dragging around your crate and standing in line for you, man, this one is a keeper. Ah! Plus you guys read together. *cries* It’s so beautiful.

    Aaaand, thank you for the giveaway! You’re so kind. ๐Ÿ˜€


  10. You lucky duck! It looks like it was so much fun! Haha you’re boyfriend is a gem for faithfully carrying the books ๐Ÿ˜€

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

  11. […] It shouldn’t impact your following of girlinthepages.com as all! It should be a seamless transition! Once I migrate my posts should continue to appear in your reader! I will be redirecting this site to my new one as well, so readers will be automatically redirected to my new site. If you’d like to you can follow me on Bloglovin’ as well, as my Bloglovin’ profile should redirect seamlessly too. I’ll still continue following all of the same blogs as well! I’ll also be hosting a giveaway soon after my move to celebrate, so be sure you’re following to enter! You can also enter my current giveawy for an ARC of Emmy & Oliver here). […]

  12. Aw! This sounds like so much fun. You must have had a fantastic time. I can’t believe Marissa Meyer likes Sailor Moon! I LOVE Sailor Moon. <3 Like love it. Like, I justโ€ฆlove it. I really need to read the Lunar Chronicles now. I thought the moon aspect was interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I LOVE those totes that you got. <3 That's so awesome that you got Royal Wedding! I remember you doing the Princess Diaries re-reading review thing. That's exciting. Oh my gosh, Making Pretty is SO good. I have the rest from EW.

    What a great boyfriend! ๐Ÿ˜€ That's why you keep him around, right? His knowledge of cons and book carrying abilities! xD Kidding of course, it's so great he went with you.

    I'm going to have to try to go to YALLWest sometime. Someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And congrats on moving. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Cristina (Girl in the Pages)

      His knowledge of cons and book carrying abilities (which is great as he’s quite tall and strong) are definitely key reasons I keep him around haha ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I can’t wait to read Making Pretty now! I haven’t read anything else by the author yet so I’m excited!

      YES if you love Sailor Moon you MUST read the Lunar Chronicles ASAP! Marissa Meyer is a sailor moon fan (I learned this from her little bio in her books) and you can definitely see the influence in the series, which I think makes it SO MUCH fun for those who are Sailor Moon fans to read!

      Thanks for the congratulations! Moving has been wonderful and slightly terrifying at the same time, but I’m really happy with the way my blog turned out! And thanks for visiting my new site ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I bet we passed each other all weekend haha! ๐Ÿ˜‰ If they do it again next year, we have to meet up! My husband only went with me one day and he was also the designated helper haha! That’s SO awesome that your boyfriend was such a trooper and helped you so much!!!

    • We definitely should meet up next year! We probably did keep passing each other, especially if we were both there both days (I noticed Sunday was definitely less crowded). Hopefully there will be more blogger centered events next year as well (the ways there were some vloggers ones) as I think a lot of us were there sort of flying under the radar!

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