Books I brought
These are the books I already owned and brought with me to the festival to get signed!
- Tales From the Hinterland by Melissa Albert
- The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
- Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
- The Scorpio Races (Owlcrate special edition) by Maggie Stiefvater
- Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
- Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater
- Greywaren by Maggie Stiefvater
- Illuminating the Prophecy (tarot) by Maggie Stiefvater
- Navigating the Scorpio Sea (tarot) by Maggie Stiefvater
Bought at the festival
- Children of Ragnarok by Cinda Williams Chima (pre-signed)
- YALLfest hoodie & button
Freebies from the festival
- Mysteries of Thorn Manor by Margaret Rogerson
- My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron
- Kismat Connection by Ananya Devarajan
- Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman (SIGNED)
- Going Dark by Melissa de la Cruz (SIGNED)
- The Witch and the Vampire by Francesca Flores
- Song of Silver, Flame Like Night by Amelie Wen Zhao
- A Long Stretch of Bad Days by Mindy McGinnis
- Four Found Dead by Natalie D. Richards
- Flowerheart by Catherine Bakewell (SIGNED)
- Sing Me to Sleep by Gabi Burton
- Nightbirds by Kate J. Armstrong
- Chaos & Flame by Tessa Gratton & Justina Ireland
- Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken
- Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
- “Here all year” LGBTQ+ tote
- Foggy Mountain Wildlife Refuge tote (from Wild is the Witch)
- The Summer I Turned Pretty beach towel
- Fierce Reads fanny pack
- “read your fanny off” fanny pack
- All the Stars & Teeth pin
- All the Stars & Teeth and Belladonna art prints
- Seoulmates popsocket & pin
- Wait for Me cookie
- Shadow Sister sampler
- Invocations sampler
- Chain of Thorns sampler
- Various other swag & bookmarks
My bookstabestie Christy (@cbookaddiction) was supposed to go this year, but she ended up getting COVID the week before and had to cancel. I was super bummed that I wouldn’t get to see her again (we went in 2018 together), and my buddies Kate (@0cheekykate0) and Maura (@armywife2310) couldn’t make it this year either, so for the first year since 2015 I had no bookish friends to hang with :(
This year my husband and I went to Florida for our anniversary (one year already!! Crazy!) the week prior to YALLfest. We were supposed to check out Friday morning and drive up in time for the Friday events – only my 3rd year out of 8 going to the Friday events because there were a few authors I wanted to knock out to make my load lighter on Saturday.
We ended up having to leave our condo two days early thanks to Hurricane Nicole (it was getting SCARY on the beach down there, and we left a full day before landfall), so we headed to Charleston on Wednesday instead. I had contacted Hotels to add a couple nights and they wanted to charge me one full night for changing my reservation after the cutoff date!! I don’t think I’ll ever use Hotels again tbh (their policies are STUPID and I also found out they charge more than the actual hotel does). Thankfully when we arrived our hotel made a separate reservation, which was $20/night cheaper than Hotels anyway, and told us we could just stay in the same room for the full stay.
And, DUDE. It is probably THE. NICEST. HOTEL. I have EVER stayed at. I chose Staybridge Suites in North Charleston this year – it was cheaper than Hawthorne Suites, where I used to stay every year until 2019, and holy shit you guys it is WAY nicer. They have a pool and fitness center, free laundry service, computers for the guests to use, a small library of books & DVDs, complimentary breakfast (and a NICE one, too, with a large variety and the most delicious hotel food I’ve ever had in my life), AND complimentary dinner M-W and free wine (something I’ve never had a hotel before), and the hotel itself is freaking gorgeous. The interior is so fancy!! Our hotel room was fancy AF! It had a sectional couch, a BIG tv, full kitchen and full sized fridge (which was good because we had two coolers full of stuff from having to leave FL early), the bathroom vanity was also super fancy, and the bed & sheets were GLORIOUS. Best hotel sheets I’ve ever used and the bed was comfy AF!! I am beside myself that I found this place!
I stayed at Hawthorne Suites for several years before because the rooms are nice, but the place itself sucked and they were expensive. It’s outdoor rooms, and it’s in little buildings of 8 rooms – 4 in front and 4 in back – with one tiny parking lot in the center. So if you had a room on the backside of the building, you had to walk down a sidewalk around to the backside; and I always had to go up stairs, too. They also charge you the morning of your check-in (with no notice), instead of AT check-in, like every other normal hotel. So you can’t pay cash. And it’s $180 a night. Staybridge was $150 a night and was 1000x better, so we will definitely be going there every year from now on!!
This was only my third year attending on Friday! We arrived around 12:40 and jumped straight into the line for TJ Klune & Melissa Albert. Eventually they split the line and I left Adam in the Albert line while I went inside the train museum to wait for TJ. I was fairly close to the front, so I figured I’d be able to get through his line and jump into Melissa’s after because he was supposed to sign at 1:30 and she was signing at 2. 1:50 arrived and he wasn’t there yet, so I swapped places with my hubby. TJ’s line started moving right after that (of course, lol) but Adam was far enough back that I stayed where I was. Melissa’s line started a bit late, but I was able to get through pretty quickly because I was only the fourth person. She was SUPER nice!! She complimented my hair, and even signed that I have awesome hair into my copy of Tales from the Hinterland.
I had plenty of time to jump into TJ’s line and get my book and tote signed! We even met a bookish friend, Cat (@vanilla_and_vellichor), who had epic yellow hair. After that we went over to the Charleston Museum for Fierce Friday. This was actually my first year ever attending the event! I have wanted to for a few years, but it’s always sold out before I could get to it. It wasn’t as exciting as it sounds, it was just more signings. But I was able to see Adalyn Grace! She was really sweet and asked if I’d read Belladonna (the only thing I had to sign because my copy of AtSaT is already signed, I skipped buying the sequel). We fangirled over the audio for a couple minutes – if you haven’t read the book yet (or want to read it again!), I highly recommend listening!
I’m so glad I got to go to the signings I did on Friday because it made for soooo much lighter of a load Saturday! Both Grace and Klune had long lines and would have been a nightmare to fit in on Saturday with everything else.
We arrived at the festival at 7:40 – I was shooting for 7:30 because in 2019 the Fierce Reads ticket line was already insane at that time, but we were running a little late (in my usual fashion, lmao. I’m late to everything unless I’m getting paid or paying for it XD). It worked out though, because the Fierce Reads line wasn’t all that bad! I was shocked that there weren’t visible lines when we were walking down the street on the way to the Charleston Museum.
We got through the Fierce Reads ticket line pretty early, so I went over to the Riveted booth to see if anyone was lining up for the Wilderness of Stars ARC tickets (Riveted said they’d give out tickets an hour before each drop). They only had one line for Riveted, and it was still for some Cassie Clare swag. I knew the Mysteries of Thorn Manor tickets were dropping soon there, too, so I went ahead and got in line. When I got up there, though, they said they weren’t doing tickets for Wilderness and that you just had to come back with the secret word from their social media. Whomp whomp. So, I just got back into line for Thorn Manor because that was my most wanted ARC on my list for the whole day. The line was moving pretty fast, so I sent Adam to the back of the line just in case I got through too quickly. I ended up kind of waiting to the side with a group of other people who were wanting the same drop.
I had no problem getting a ticket for it thankfully! I was so excited. After that, we found the line for the “cross into the spirit realm” event. I was able to snag tickets to the Penguin soiree on the way. Adam stayed in the spirit realm line while I headed back to Riveted in hopes of getting Wilderness. I stood there for a while, and by the time we got up front we realized people were just showing up and crowding around the booth. I saw two people get physical ARCs, then all the sudden they said they weren’t doing any more and that it was e-galleys only. I was super sad! And salty that random people got up there in front and got the whole two they had :( I was able to sign up for an e-galley, though!
I went back over to the courtyard where Adam was waiting in line and stood with him for a while. We were far enough back that I planned to run back over to the Riveted booth to grab Thorn Manor a few minutes before 11.
When I got back over there a little early, though, they said they wouldn’t drop til 11 exactly. I told the person in the booth that I had something else at 11 and she was like, “don’t worry, I’ll just hold a book to the side for you and put your name on it so you can come back for it any time!” That was such an awesome person and I wish I’d gotten her name!! Riveted gal, you rock!!
I was able to make it back over to the spirit realm event in time to grab an ARC and swag back and get my ARC – Going Dark – signed by Melissa de la Cruz! I had no issues going back and picking up Mysteries of Thorn Manor when we were finished. Then we lined up for the “wheel of fortune” ARC drop at Penguin!
When we got over there, I realized I’d totally forgotten to go to the Fierce Reads booth at 11 with my ticket for Marie Lu’s new book, so I ran over there – 20 minutes late – and they refused to give it to me because I was late. Riveted is making you look bad, Fierce Reads.
Adam spun first at the Penguin booth and got Chaos & Flame, but it was one of the books on the soiree tickets for later so he traded it for a shiny fanny pack that he really wanted. I spun and also got Chaos & Flame, so it worked out anyway! As soon as that was over we hurried waaay over to the Blue Bicycle tent for Maggie Stiefvater. She was the only author I cared about seeing, but I knew her line would be long and slow because she likes to talk. (I wasn’t wrong, lmao!) Her line was already looped around when we got there, which I knew it would be, but I was confident she’d be signing for well over an hour so I was going to leave Adam there and come back. I was worrying about how to make the next hour work, though, because there were several ARC drops I wanted to go to and knew I couldn’t do it all myself. Our problem was solved, thankfully, because we found Cat and her hubby in line! They were farther up than us, and while I was trying to figure out how to make everything work, they were kind enough to offer to take books for me! THANK YOU CAT AND HUBBY! You guys are awesome!!!
Because they took my Maggie books, it freed up a little extra time for Adam and I to go back to the car and dump some extra weight, as well as grab some lunch from our cooler.
After our break, we both stood in line for the Sourcebooks ARC par-tea. At 12:40 or so I left to see what the line was like for the ticketed 1 pm Fierce Reads drop – Fierce Reads recommends (pull a ducky out and get a book coded for the color on the bottom) – and I’m glad I did because it was getting pretty long. While I was standing in line, a random stranger walked up and tapped me on the shoulder and said “do you want this?” while handing me a book. Out of pure reflex I reached out (it’s hard not to when someone is handing you something lol!) and I had already taken it and said “sure, thank you!” in surprise before I actually looked at it and realized what it was – an ARC of The Witch and the Vampire, which was one I really wanted! I turned around to thank her again and she was already gone. It was so freaking sweet of her! Thank you random stranger! You made my day!
And it worked out, too, because the ducky I pulled out was not for that book, but rather My Dear Henry. Which I later found out was a Jekyll & Hyde retelling, so I’m kind of excited to read it!
After I went through that ARC drop, I traded places with Adam in the par-tea line so he could go pull a ducky (we both had a ticket for that one). Funnily enough, he came back with The Witch and the Vampire too! The girl in front of us really wanted it, so I gave it to her. Adam had given away his wristband for the par-tea because the girl that was immediately after the cut-off for it was really upset. (He’s amazing, isn’t he?) I was kind of panicking because I had already put mine on like a dummy instead of holding onto it, and I wanted to leave him in line to go line up for the EpicReads drop with Mindy McGinnis’ new book, which was my second most wanted ARC. Well, apparently the girl in front of me I gave the book to had given Adam her spare wristband! It was awesome! I ended up being able to get mine off, anyway, and gifted it to someone in line that didn’t have one. Then I headed over to the EpicReads line.
I had been texting Cat about Maggie’s line because I’d hoped to either go see Maggie before the EpicReads drop, or directly after. The line was moving SUPER slow. I wasn’t too worried because I’ve met Maggie before, and already had my tote bag signed by her, but I’d have liked to have taken a picture with her. Sadly they hit her table right at the same time the ARC drop line started moving, so I missed it.
No biggie, though, because I scored A Long Stretch of Bad Days with zero issues! Yay!! They were giving two ARCs to each person so I chose Flowerheart as my second pick because the author was signing books directly behind the line. However, when I went to get in that line for it I found that it was already signed, so I didn’t have to stand in the line anyway.
While I was in line for that, Adam was awesome enough to go to the 2 pm Fierce Reads drop for me and pick up a copy of Divine Rivals! He went directly to the “pull a sword, get an ARC” line at Penguin and I met him over there after I left the EpicReads booth. He had an ARC of Four Found Dead from the ARC par-tea, which I hadn’t heard of before, but it sounds so good! Adam made a friend in the Penguin line, Chris, who was super cool – he was there for his wife, too – and we all chatted while we waited! There was also a family behind us from Troy, Ohio, which is funny because we are from a town that’s 15 minutes south of them! Small world!
I really wanted Alexandra Bracken’s new book, Silver in the Bone, but I was also really excited for Song of Silver, Flame Like Night. Sadly, I pulled Lucha of the Night Forest. It sounds good, but not what I was hoping for. Adam is a champ though, and pulled Silver in the Bone! Yayyy!! We ended up standing around waiting to see if anyone got Song of Silver and didn’t want it, and I was lucky enough to trade Lucha for it with someone who didn’t care what book they got! I was stoked!!
Cat and her hubby walked by at that time, and wanted to try and get in at the end of that line, so Adam went with them while I went over to the courtyard and squeaked into the end of the soiree line to grab a copy of Nightbirds.
At 3 I went inside the Museum to wait for the Mental Health panel because they were going to have ARCs of Sing Me to Sleep. It worked out really well because I had it written down as starting at 3:30 and it actually started at 3, so I got there just in time! The panel was 45 minutes long, which was a bit more than I bargained for, because I expected half an hour tops lol. I also wanted to go to the book bingo at 4 pm, which Adam had thankfully already lined up for. It was totally fine though, because I was indeed able to snag Sing Me to Sleep! The worker actually handed me a different book – she was doing it at random and being all huffy because people were hovering trying to get the books they wanted – and I was super bummed, but while I was waiting to trade a gal behind me was gracious enough to take the copy I had and go trade for what I wanted anyway! Thank you, another random stranger! Book people are seriously the greatest. It’s part of what I love so much about YALLfest!
I made it back to the bingo line just as it was starting and sent Adam with my books for Jennifer Lynn Barnes, because I didn’t care about meeting her.
Book bingo was so fun! I didn’t win anything, of course, but it was fun anyway. I made friends with the girl sitting next to me, but I didn’t get her name. Poor thing had almost nothing on her board the first couple of rounds! She was super nice. I was a bit salty that I didn’t win, because they had two ARCs of Waking Fire (one of my top 3 most anticipated 2023 releases!). But that’s okay, because everyone got a tote bag with ARCs in it, and Unseelie was in there, which is one I am super excited about!
I found Adam again and we went and sat in a panel with TJ Klune, Adam Sass, and Brittany Williams. It was entertaining! Klune is hilarious, by the way!
I was hoping to score free tickets to the Smackdown again this year, but I didn’t see anyone handing them out and was too exhausted to seek them out, so we headed back to the hotel after the panel was over.
It was such an amazing day!! I feel like this year was SO much more chill than previous years. In 2019 the ARC lines were stupid long and it was difficult to get much of anything unless you lined up at LEAST a full hour in advance. This year I got into lines about 30 minutes early and still got what I wanted! There were only a few lines that we had to wait an hour or more for. I feel like there were a lot less people this year. It was still beautiful chaos, and I was still wiped TF out by the end of the day; but I scored a whopping 15 ARCs today, which is the most I’ve ever been able to get! Adam is the best, he really is.
I had a crazy low amount of authors and books this year. Last year I said 18 books was the lowest I’ve ever taken…well, this year it was only 16! Crazy! I used to take so many books I had to bring a suitcase to tote them around! (Oh well, makes it much easier to carry!) The list of authors I haven’t seen is getting smaller and smaller, and lately they’ve been hosting more contemp authors or new authors I haven’t heard of. Or repeat authors that I have no interest in seeing. This year I only had 7 authors on my list – I usually have 10 or more – Maggie Stiefvater was my only MUST see author, then there were 3 authors I wanted to see and 3 I had books for but would be fine skipping. Here’s what it looked like in the past:
2013: saw 8 authors (missed 2) // brought 20 books
2014: saw 5 authors (missed 8) // brought 34 books
2015: saw 7 authors (missed 4) // brought 21 books
2016: saw 11 authors (missed 1) // brought 28 books
2017: saw 16 authors (missed 0) // brought 25 books
2018: saw 16 authors (missed 0) // brought 42 books
2019: saw 9 authors (missed 2) // brought 18 books
Authors I got to see:
- Melissa Albert
- TJ Klune
- Adalyn Grace
Plus I got books signed for Maggie Stiefvater and Jennifer Barnes even though I didn’t see them myself!
Previous years’ recaps
- Missed 2021 – was on my honeymoon!
- Missed 2020 – canceled due to COVID
- YALLfest 2019
- YALLfest 2018
- YALLfest 2017
- YALLfest 2016
- YALLfest 2015
- YALLfest 2014
- YALLfest 2013