Reviews of bucket-list-worthy things to do all over the world


~ A photo essay by J.W. Lynne (California, USA)

YALLWEST is an annual book festival held in Santa Monica, California, for people of all ages who love young adult and middle grade books. Having enjoyed every YALLWEST since the very first one (in 2015), I was very excited to go to YALLWEST 2019!

Just after 9AM on Saturday, May 4th, when YALLWEST 2019 opened its gates, my first mission was to score some free ARCs (Advanced Reader's Copies) of soon-to-be-published books. Supplies of the ARCs are generally limited to 50-100 copies of each book, so there were no guarantees.

I wanted an ARC copy of The Grace Year (by Kim Liggett), and the festival program indicated that ARC tickets would be distributed at 9AM at the Fierce Reads booth, so I headed directly there. After about 15 minutes of waiting in line, I was given a ticket that promised me a copy of The Grace Year if I returned to the Fierce Reads booth and presented that ticket at 11:30AM. I was also given a free Fierce Reads "fanny pack."
 At about 9:30AM, I joined the line for Scholastic's very generous 10AM morning breakfast giveaway. When I reached the front of the line, at about 10:30AM, I was rewarded with a free (very yummy) gourmet donut, a cloth tote bag, and SIX free books! Each book was handed to me by the book's author! How cool!
Some booths, like this one from Owlcrate, offered fun swag to those who lined up to spin a prize wheel.
Just before 11AM, I headed into my first panel of the day: "Spaaaace!" where Veronica Roth, Somaiya Daud, Lewis Peterson, Cori McCarthy,  Jon To, Jay Kristoff, and Amy S. Foster talked about writing science fiction. After enjoying the first half hour of the "Spaaaace!" panel, I had to leave in order to redeem that Fierce Reads ticket for an ARC of The Grace Year.
With my copy of The Grace Year in hand, I joined the line for the "Frankly in Love food truck." Free ARCs of Frankly in Love (by David Yoon) were handed out to the first 100 people in line, but they were all gone before I reached the front of the line 45 minutes later. I did walk away with a tasty free taco though.
I spent the rest of the day enjoying the interesting panels, like the one titled "Stronger," where Margaret Stohl, Somaiya Daud, Angie Thomas, Shannon Hale, Erika L. Sánchez, Natasha Ngan, and Busy Phillips talked about creating strong female characters.
The "Sci Fi vs Fantasy" panel (with Veronica Roth, Brendan Reichs, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jay Kristoff, Melissa Albert, Nafiza Azad, and Robin LaFevers) offered a special bonus. The first 100 people in line scored a free ARC of The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring! I lined up about 25 minutes before the panel, and I was one of them!
At the "Mysterious Circumstances" panel, Peter Stone, Karen M. McManus, Matthew Modine, Gwenda Bond, Sara Farizan, Gretchen McNeil, and Alexis Bass talked about mysteries and "evil" characters.
The final event of the day was the "Smackdown," where writers and volunteer audience members played games like Never Have I Ever.
To wrap up the event, Maurene Goo, Abdi Nazemian, and Sarah Enni donned wigs and costumes for some dancing and lip-synching.
I left YALLWEST 2019 with ten ARCs (I did receive two more ARCs during the festival, but I gave them away before this photo was taken), some cool swag (a tote bag, a fanny pack, an eye mask, and two pins), and tons of memories!
Jen (California, USA)*
*As a member of the press, Jen received priority admission to the festival and was offered a complimentary ticket to all ticketed talks.

YALLWEST 2019 was held on May 4th at Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California, USA.


Heading to Los Angeles for YALLWEST?
Check out Jen's Los Angeles Bucket List for great ideas of things to do while you're in L.A.!

Find Jen's photos of YALLWEST 2018 here!
Find Jen's photos of YALLWEST 2017 here!
Find Jen's photos of YALLWEST 2016 here!

Visit my YA Dystopian Book Bucket List and my YA Contemporary Book Bucket List
go on a blind date with a YA book!

YALLWEST 2020 tips:

Follow YALLWEST on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know the dates when the 2020 festival will be held and to check out the 2020 schedule and program as soon as it is live.

Before you go, look over the schedule and program and plan out your day.

If you want to be among the first people to walk through the gates when the festival opens, arrive early. For YALLWEST 2019, about 20 people were in line at 6:30 AM (the festival was scheduled to open at 9 AM) and the line grew quickly after 7AM.

If there's an ARC that you MUST have, stop by the booth where it will be given away as soon as you arrive at the festival to make sure you know the rules to get that specific ARC. At YALLWEST 2019, most ARC giveaways required free tickets that were distributed at a set time earlier in the day.

If there's an author who you'd like to have sign your book, review the signing schedule carefully. Lining up to meet certain authors (generally those marked on the schedule with an *) may require a wristband. Check the rules to see when those wristbands will be distributed.

If there's a panel that you MUST attend, arrive at the panel early. At YALLWEST 2019, I saw lines for some popular panels beginning more than 30 minutes before the panel was scheduled to start.

A few events (generally the "Keynotes" and "Smackdown") require tickets that you purchase online in advance.

Be prepared to wait in long lines for almost everything.

Pack a refillable water bottle. There are drinking fountains at the school where you can fill your bottle throughout the day.

Dress in layers. In Santa Monica, California, the weather tends to be cool early in the day and in the evening, but temperatures can get hot during the day.

Wear comfortable closed-toed shoes. The Santa Monica High School campus is not very large, but you will be surprised how much walking you will do, often on very crowded walkways.