Hey guys! 😛
Check out our YALLWEST Chapter 1 here.
We all know what exhaustion feels like. But have you heard of #yallwestaustion?!
This being the 2nd year for YALLWEST, things were bound to get even more intense than the previous year. In fact, according to a bunch of bookworms we’ve met around the event, this year was a lot more organized and well-structured, yet remained wild, hectic and insanely crowded; just the way we love it! 😀 Actually, we don’t know about that last part! 😀 All jokes aside, YALLWEST 2016 was absolutely AMAZING. This was actually the first time we’ve both EVER went to a book festival. In Montreal, we only have an annual “Salon du livre de Montréal” and the famous “Montreal Comiccon”. We were quite pumped to be able to attend YALLWEST in the heart of Santa Monica and experience its magic for ourselves. After all, we’re huge fans of young adult novels—especially Trang!
Long live YALLWEST! There’s just no way to describe the feeling of being at the core of a festival that reunites a bunch of book loving folks to share their sweat-dripping passion for middle-grade and young adult novels and that brings together an incredible array of amazing authors who got together in Santa Monica to put a smile on every bookworm’s face. Before we talk about the event any further, let’s just take a moment and give a warm and strong round of applause to the amazing people who made YALLWEST happen! *compulsive applause*
We’re actually quite stunned by the welcoming aura that emanated from the place. Every single person we’ve come across had a joyful and glowing expression on them. We were quite pleased by the effort and the commitment of every individual. My eavesdropping skills even managed to pick up some stories of kids who weren’t volunteers and still helped out during the event. These youngsters were rewarded with the purple YALLWEST uniform! Isn’t that a great overall gesture from the community?
Day 1 went beyond our expectations. The event itself was supposed to start at 9 a.m. and people were actually lined up at the gate before zero hour. A friend Trang made told her that the line was never-ending and that YALLWEST didn’t start till 9:30! We both however arrived there around 10 a.m., taking it slow and appreciating a good breakfast near our hotel. We actually had no clue where we were going, but we knew that we didn’t want to be in the back of signing line-ups, so that’s exactly where we headed first. . There were at least 14 different sponsors, from Epic Reads, Penguin Teen, Owlcrate to Disney Freeform, that were present. They all had their own giveaways, freebies, and personalities at their tents! Signing up with their email newsletters would award you with totes or even books! What’s there to not love.
Of course, we had to split up when Trang had a signing line-up to take so that I could go in line at the various tents for all the bookish goodies. After going through my first tent, I knew that these two days was going to be all about endurance (book weight-lifting to sun-enduring challenges).
I was really glad to see that young adult novels are loved this much today, especially cause its a lot harder to see this much love in the air out here in Montreal, where French is more dominant.
Of course, this event wouldn’t be complete without FOOD! There’s no way people would’ve survived this place if they didn’t have somewhere to go to to get themselves a healthy (questionable) dose of food and drinks! The foodtrucks was exactly what the event needed. There was at least 4-5 different trucks to pick from and the service was pretty quick and simple! This saved us so much time and kept us alive during the whole day. YALLWEST did an amazing job in making sure to have everything the book fans needed to maximize everyone’s happiness throughout the festival. And we’re glad that these trucks were there with us cause we were sparse on food and water in our bags! This was a question of survival after all!
Apart from the 14 different sponsor tents, YALLWEST also had a book sale section for everyone to grab a novel they didn’t have or wished to get signed during the event! This definitely saved people the trouble of carrying unread books to the event.
If you ask us, this Mysterious Galaxy Books section could’ve strongly benefited of a sign indicating where to pay for the books and could’ve had more volunteers around there to make sure that everything went according to plan (organizing the books, making sure the line-up to pay goes smoothly and assuring that nothing unfortunate happens, like theft). As a undergraduate in Criminology, I couldn’t refrain myself of seeing these flaws, but at least YALLWEST will always improve and make the experience better every year! 😀
Aside from that, they also had this big open space in the Centennial Quad just for book signings. People would go in line according to the author they wanted and the time they showed up and patiently wait there turns. The volunteers there did an amazing job in keeping everything clean and organized and even gave away post-its to put your name on and facilitate the whole procedure; just like one of our own tips in Chapter 1!Waiting in line for the authors was long and the weather was something along the lines of scorching volcano heat. However, arriving early and being equipped to face the weather definitely helped!
You know what’s even more amazing about this event? The authors! YALLWEST 2016 features even more authors than the previous year and this one had some of the biggest names out there (i.e. Rainbow Rowell, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, etc.).
Being able to meet them (Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sabaa Tahir, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff) was unimaginable, mind-blowing, crazy, I tell you!
I couldn’t even believe they were real. When we were 3-4 bookworms away from meeting our authors and getting our books signed, our brains were going haywire.
We had so many things we wanted to say and so little time to do so!
One thing is for sure, we had to make sure to tell them how much we loved their books and appreciated the gift they created for all the book lovers out there. Honestly. These authors came to YALLWEST, an absolutely free event (apart for the special signings and whatnot), just for all their fans.
They enjoyed the event themselves and shared their own love for their fans with the utmost gratitude. Just check out Twitter for their afterthoughts of the event! We’re quite happy to even be able to assist the event and even more to have been able to meet some of the most amazing talents in literature to this date. Let’s give another round of applause for these amazing authors and for all the people who, once again, made YALLWEST the best young adult event of the year! *more compulsive applauding*
At the end of the day, YALLWEST Day 1 was an absolute success. It was filled with happy bookworms, authors and volunteers. The coolest part was how the authors would roam around the place to enjoy the event as much as we did. In fact, I think we might have even missed some who might have walked by us. Like, inches away from us! However, we didn’t miss Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, as you can see in the pictures!
They were just strolling around the place until they saw Trang hyperventilating.
That’s when Jay Kristoff the Giant waved at her and we got the chance to take the pictures, before the signing! 😀
We also spotted some of the famous booktubers and couldn’t resist the urge to take a picture with them. Imagine that! People who we only knew through a computer screen were right in front of our faces! From Polandbananas to Katytastic! Gosh, we’re really grateful for being able to be part of such a wonderful event where so many bookworms were reunited.
YALLWEST managed to bring all ages together, whether it was the youngest folks or the oldest ones. However, everyone knew that Day 2 was afoot, while others were happy to finally go back home and rest for the rest of the weekend! Can’t blame anyone for feeling overwhelming by this magnificent event! Around 4-5 p.m., everyone left the premises with bags heavier than themselves, filled with books and bookish goods. You wouldn’t believe the things people did to be able to bring all the books they wanted signed. Some of them brought their suitcases, others brought four-wheeled wagons. The things bookworms do for books, man. Let’s just say that we’re not short on imagination! Trang and I left the place with bags that were eating away at our shoulders, but didn’t know until we dropped everything off at the hotel. Yep. That’s when we realized we lost our shoulders—I’m kidding! One thing is for sure, Day 1 was complete. We were absolutely thrilled about the day and couldn’t believe that we survived the event. We were in a state of ecstasy and were happy to have been able to experience this for the first time ever!
Once we hit the bed, one thought was going through our mind. We needed to be ready for Day 2.